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COVID-19

German health workers must be fully vaccinated by March 15th 2022

The new German government is set to bring in its partial vaccine mandate for health workers and carers in March next year, according to a draft law that's due to be voted on this week.

Vaccine booklets
Numerous vaccine booklets scattered on a desk. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Sven Hoppe

“To protect public health and vulnerable groups of people from Covid-19, provision is made for persons working in certain establishments and businesses to be vaccinated or recovered or to have a medical certificate stating that there is a contraindication to vaccination against Covid-19,” a draft of the law obtained by Reuters states.

The change will means that anyone who works as a doctor, nurse, paramedic or carer will have until March 15th, 2022 to provide their employer with proof that they have been fully vaccinated or have recovered from Covid.

If they can’t get vaccinated for medical reasons, they will have until this date to secure an official doctor’s note explaining that why they can’t get their Covid jabs. 

Anyone starting a new job after March 16th must have proof of vaccination before they start work, the draft law states. This rule will also apply to staff in doctors’ surgeries and people who work in emergency services, and people who don’t comply with the mandate could lose their jobs.

The move by the incoming SPD, Green and FDP coalition is the first step towards a more assertive stance from the government on Covid vaccination.

With more than 30 percent of the population still unvaccinated, the government is considering following in the footsteps of neighbouring Austria and introducing a general vaccinate mandate for over-12s next year.

The plan is expected to be put to a vote in parliament this month after Germany’s new government takes the reins on December 8th. According to incoming Chancellor Olaf Scholz, MPs won’t whipped along party lines but will be able to vote with their conscience on the issue. 

Angela Merkel has recently spoken out in favour of compulsory jabs. 

The move is part of a raft of new measures aimed at taming the fourth wave, including barring unvaccinated people from non-essential shops and other public spaces and allowing states to close restaurants and bars when incidences are high. 

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In an attempt to speed up the vaccination drive in the run up to Christmas, the government has also drafted a new law to allow pharmacists, veterinarians and dentists to vaccinate people over the age of 12.

These professionals are expected to undergo special training first, and will either have to prove that they have an appropriate space to carry out vaccinations or work as part of a mobile vaccination team. 

According to DPA, these professionals will only gain permission to carry out the jabs for a limited period of time while Germany attempts to ramp up it vaccine coverage and roll out booster jabs. 

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COVID-19 VACCINES

What to know about getting a fourth Covid vaccination in Germany

With Covid cases rising, many people in Germany are wondering if they should get a fourth Covid jab - or second booster. Here's what you should keep in mind.

What to know about getting a fourth Covid vaccination in Germany

German states have started giving out new Covid vaccines that are specially adapted to the Omicron variant.

Though the Omicron variant is believed to cause milder courses of illness than earlier variants like Delta, it’s known for being highly transmissible and is often able to evade the body’s immune responses. 

In September, three Omicron vaccines received EU-wide approval: two vaccines from BioNTech and Moderna adapted to the BA.1 sub-variant, and another Omicron booster from BioNTech to protect against the dominant BA.4 and BA.5 sub-variants. 

Who should get the fourth Covid shot (second booster)?

People who belong to ‘at risk’ groups should think about getting a booster shot this autumn.

The official recommendation from the Standing Commission on Vaccination (STIKO) stipulates that people over the age of 60 should get a further booster vaccination.

In addition, people over the age of 12 who have an underlying condition that can lead to severe illness with Covid-19 should also get a shot.

Experts also recommend that residents and staff in nursing homes or long-term care facilities receive a fourth jab.

READ ALSO: When – and how – people can get the new Omicron vaccine in Germany

In STIKO’s latest guidance dated September 20th, experts also say that it may be appropriate for people at particular risk, for instance the very elderly or people with immunodeficiency, to get another shot (a fifth jab) after the fourth vaccination, although that would depend on several factors and a medical consultation. 

A Covid test centre in Rostock, northern Germany.

A Covid test centre in Rostock, northern Germany. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Bernd Wüstneck

Should people under the age of 60 get a fourth jab?

If people don’t fall into a risk group and are under the age of 60, they can still receive a fourth vaccination, although it’s not officially recommended. You should have a consultation with your GP – or a doctor carrying out Covid vaccinations – if you are interested in getting the fourth jab. 

How do vaccination centres handle people under 60 who want to get another Covid shot?

There have been occasional reports in Germany that younger people who don’t belong to a risk group have been turned away from vaccination centres because they don’t qualify for a booster jab. 

However, The Local has anecdotally heard that people have been able to get a jab from a vaccination station or centre, regardless of their health condition or age.

A spokesperson at the health department of the city Munich told broadcaster BR24 that carrying out a fourth vaccination is decided on a case-by-case basis and is a decision taken by the medical expert giving out the jab “in each case”.

Where is the fourth vaccination available? 

There are still lots of walk-in vaccination centres across the country, while many doctors and pharmacies also carry out jabs. You should search online or contact your GP for more information. 

Many towns and cities are reporting a significant increase in demand since the new vaccines adapted for Omicron variants became available.

READ ALSO: Munich sees sharp rise in Covid cases after Oktoberfest

How many people in Germany have been vaccinated?

According to official figures, 76.3 percent of the German population has received two Covid jabs. Just over 62 percent have also received a booster jab, and 9.9 percent have been given a second booster vaccination.

Around 18.4 million people (22.2 percent) in Germany are not vaccinated. For four million of these people aged 0 to four years (4.8 percent), no licensed vaccine is available.

Does getting the flu vaccination help against Covid?

Coronaviruses and the flu are different viruses, so the flu jab cannot protect against Covid-19. However, those who have a weaker immune system can strengthen their body in fighting a virus by getting a flu shot, according to experts. The immune system can then better use resources it saves against a possible Covid infection.

The fourth Covid jab and the flu shot can be administered to patients at the same time, according to the STIKO – although they don’t have to be.

If this is the case, the injections are given in different arms. However, it could be the case that patients have a stronger reaction if both jabs are carried out at the same time, so keep that in mind. 

READ ALSO: Can anyone in Germany get a second Covid booster jab?

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