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COVID-19 VACCINES

German MPs to decide on compulsory Covid jabs ‘by end of year’

Germany on Tuesday inched closer to mandatory coronavirus vaccines after incoming Chancellor Olaf Scholz said they were necessary to contain a fierce fourth wave of the pandemic.

Soon-to-be German Chancellor Olaf Scholz speaks at a recent SPD youth wing event.
Soon-to-be German Chancellor Olaf Scholz speaks at a recent SPD youth wing event. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Frank Rumpenhorst

Following crisis talks with acting Chancellor Angela Merkel and the leaders of Germany’s 16 states, Scholz said he wanted parliament to vote on the matter before the end of the year.

“Too many people have not got vaccinated,” Scholz told Bild television. Making jabs compulsory is justified “to protect us all”.

The compulsory vaccinations should be in force “in the beginning of February or March so we must move quickly now,” Scholz said, promising that lawmakers would be allowed to vote according to their conscience.

Generally, MPs are expected to vote with their parties on key issues, but with ethically sensitive issues, exceptions can be made to allow parliamentarians to be guided by their conscience alone. 

In the meeting, Scholz had signalled his personal support for such a measure.

He said he was “aware that there were cross-party debates” among lawmakers about making the vaccine compulsory, a source said.

READ ALSO: Is Germany on the way to introducing mandatory Covid jabs?

The introduction of a general vaccine mandate has been a hot topic in Germany after Austria announced that it would be introducing the measure in February. It has previously been ruled out in Germany but fears are growing over the dramatic fourth Covid wave and the newly detected Omicron variant. 

According to sources of German news magazine Spiegel, Scholz said that compulsory vaccinations should be in place “when everyone has had a realistic chance to be double-vaccinated.”

What else is happening this week? 

German leaders will meet again on Thursday to thrash out the details of the proposal as well as other new measures aimed at taming the Covid surge, said Merkel’s spokesman Steffen Seibert.

These include capping the number of people the unvaccinated can socialise with, closing clubs and limiting large events. Only the vaccinated and recovered would be allowed into non-essential shops, according to the plans.

Bavarian premier Markus Söder told reporters he expected Bundesliga football games to return to playing to empty stands, following an outcry over a packed stadium in Cologne at the weekend.

“It’s clear that something needs to change when it comes to football,” Söder said.

Several hard-hit German regions have already cancelled Christmas markets and barred the unvaccinated from public spaces like gyms and leisure facilities to slow the pandemic spread.

But critics say the patchwork of rules is confusing, and this week’s emergency talks were aimed at coming up with nationwide rules.

Several hard-hit German regions have already cancelled Christmas markets and barred the unvaccinated from public spaces like gyms and leisure facilities.

But critics say the patchwork of rules is confusing, and Tuesday’s crisis talks are aimed at coming up with more uniform rules for the whole country.

Scholz reportedly spoke to Merkel and the state premiers about a “national task” in which solidarity had to be shown with the German states experiencing extreme infection figures.

The incoming Chancellor said he wanted to see 30 million Covid jabs administered to people in Germany by Christmas – and that this would help to break the wave.

He said for this to happen, more vaccination offers were needed – involving pharmacists, dentists and vets in giving out shots.

According to German media, Scholz has also told participants at the talks that he is in favour of barring the unvaccinated from more parts of public life, including non-essential retail.

It comes after Germany’s highest court ruled that extreme Covid measures like curfews and contact bans – dubbed the emergency brake – were lawful, possibly paving the way for authorities to bring in tougher restrictions again if the situation calls for it. 

READ ALSO: Will Germany bring in Covid ’emergency brake’ restrictions?

The scheduled meeting between the federal government and state leaders has been moved forward by a week to December 2nd.  

Member comments

    1. This perspective is just regurgitated media narrative based on nothing truthful. People who have put this into their bodies also get sick, and carry and spread the illness. This is not a cure, and acting as though people who choose not to participate are “messing everything up” is intellectually lazy, and based on nothing substantial. Do people who avoid flu shots, and have for years, “mess everything up”? No.

      1. Sigh. Heres hoping for mandatory vaccinations. If I’ve learned anything at all, its that one can never get though to an antivaxxer.

        1. So called Antivaxxers are a tiny part of the problem here. 30% of the population are not vaccinated. That’s a lot of people. There’s a lot more that can be done to incentivise and educate before we start criminalising ‘the unvaccinated’

          1. Mandatory vaccinations are the way forward. Those who refuse will be making themselves criminals. They have had long enough to come forward.

      2. Once SARS-CoV-2 has made enough of its rounds through you and your ignorant, unvaccinated friends to become endemic like the Flu, then maybe your argument will hold water.

        Until then, this comparison is just plain stupid and calling virologists “intellectually lazy” for pointing out the obvious is comically ironic.

        Show some basic human decency and get the shot.

  1. I agree there should be mandates on being vaccinated if you want to access public places. This is required to protect the public from the spread of the disease. In Germany the government has been very late to introduce these measures, hence the mess we have now. But mandating vaccinations is a step too far. Personal physical integrity is a human right that should never be violated for any reason. It sets a precedent and we don’t know what the consequences might be. It’s also probably unnecessary. And I cannot fathom why our Sony new government wants to start their new term with such a controversial policy which the far right will use to gain support by opposing it. Far be it from me to call Mr Scholz politically stupid, but it does rather seem that way to me.

    1. Its very necessary. Stopping people who arent vaccinated from going into bars etc just makes them dig their heels in and have parties at each others houses. It wont encourage them to get the jab. It will have the opposite effect. We all wear seat belts for the greater good. Vaccinations should be seen similarly.

      1. There’s a world of difference between forcing someone to wear a seatbelt and forcing medical treatment on someone. And what people do in the privacy of their own homes is none of your business. You don’t need protecting from that. You’re not there!

        1. Wrong. By not being vaccinated, a person is more of a threat to everyone around them. Its due to people not being vaccinated that we are about to be locked down again.

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COVID-19 VACCINES

Are people who’ve had the single J&J jab no longer fully vaccinated in Germany?

Germany's federal vaccine agency says that people who've had one dose of the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) vaccine should no longer be classed as being fully vaccinated.

People queue for a vaccination in Quedlinburg, Saxony-Anhalt.
People queue for a vaccination in Quedlinburg, Saxony-Anhalt. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-Zentralbild | Matthias Bein

People who’ve had J&J, sometimes known as Janssen, used to have full vaccination status after a single dose of the vaccine. 

Since January 15th, however, a single dose of J&J should no longer count as full vaccination, according to the Paul Ehrlich Institute (PEI), the country’s vaccine authority. 

In autumn last year the German government began recommending a second mRNA jab for people who’d had J&J – which many people thought was the booster vaccination. 

However, according to the PEI’s update on proof of vaccination within the Covid Protective Measures Exemption Ordinance and the Coronavirus Entry Ordinance, the second shot is needed to complete ‘basic immunisation’.

It is unclear at this stage if it means that people returning or coming to Germany from abroad with only one shot of J&J will be counted as partially vaccinated and therefore need to present tests or face other forms of barriers to entry. 

We are also looking into what this means for the various health pass rules in states, such as the 3G rules for transport. 

The Deutsches Ärzteblatt, a German-language medical magazine, said: “Special rules according to which one dose was recognised as a complete vaccination with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine are no longer applicable.”

The Local has contacted the German Health Ministry for clarification on what this means for those affected. 

According to the latest government figures, 5.3 million doses of Johnson & Johnson have been given out in Germany so far in the vaccination campaign. 

The news will come as a shock to those who don’t know that they need another jab, or haven’t got round to getting their second vaccine yet. 

All other jabs – such as BioNTech/Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca – already require two jabs. 

People in Germany are seen as fully vaccinated two weeks after their second dose. 

What about boosters?

As The Local Germany has been reporting, the German government said in December that people who’ve had J&J need a third shot three months after their second dose to be considered boosted.

A German Health Ministry spokesman told us last week that due to more vaccination breakthrough infections affecting people who’ve had the J&J vaccine, extra protection was needed.

“Therefore, after completion of the basic immunisation as recommended by STIKO, i.e. after administration of two vaccine doses (preferably 1x J&J + 1x mRNA), following the current recommendation of the STIKO, a further booster vaccination can subsequently be administered with a minimum interval of a further three months, as with the other approved Covid-19 vaccines,” the Health Ministry spokesman said. 

However, there has been much confusion on this front because some states have been accepting J&J and another shot as being boosted, while others haven’t.

READ ALSO:

It is unclear if the new regulation will mean that states will all have to only accept J&J and two shots as being boosted. 

North Rhine-Westphalia, for instance, updated its regulations on January 16th and now requires that people who’ve had J&J and one shot have another jab to be boosted. 

Having a booster shot in Germany means that you do not have to take a Covid-19 test if you’re entering a venue, such as a restaurant or cafe, under the 2G-plus rules.

The Paul Ehrlich Institute said that proof of complete vaccination protection against Covid takes into account “the current state of medical science”. 

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