SHARE
COPY LINK

COVID-19

German health agency raises Covid risk level for the vaccinated and recovered

The Robert Koch Institute (RKI) has raised the risk level for vaccinated and recovered people in Germany from "moderate" to "high" in view of the Omicron variant of Covid-19.

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

The RKI said the risk of infection from Covid is believed to be “very high” for unvaccinated and partially vaccinated people in Germany. 

For people with basic immunisation (vaccinated but without a booster jab), and for those who have recently recovered from Covid-19, the risk has been increased to “high”.

The risk for the group of people who are vaccinated and have had a booster shot is assessed as “moderate”.

The health agency estimates that the overall risk posed by Covid-19 to the health of the population in Germany is “very high”.

Experts from the RKI said they upgraded the risk status due to the “rapid spread of the Omicron variant which according to current knowledge (from other countries) spreads much faster and more effectively than the previous virus variants”.

“This can lead to a sudden increase in the number of cases of infection and a rapid overloading of the health system and possibly other areas of care,” said the RKI in its statement.

The RKI said the aim in Germany is to “significantly reduce the infection figures at present in order to slow down the dynamics of the spread of the Omicron variant, to minimise severe illnesses and deaths and to relieve the burden on the health system”.

The health agency added: “Another important goal is the prevention of long-term consequences, which can also occur after mild courses of the disease and whose long-term effects are not yet foreseeable.”

What’s the current Covid situation in Germany?

On Tuesday Germany reported 23,428 Covid-19 infections and 462 deaths in the latest 24 hour period. The 7-day incidence was 306.4 infections per 100,000 people. 

Infections have largely been stagnating recently due to the receding fourth wave fuelled by the Delta variant. 

The RKI said, however, that the 7-day incidences are currently very high in all age groups, especially in the unvaccinated group – and also significantly higher than in the same period last year, 

The number of people being treated for hospital with a Covid-19 infection, and the number of deaths, are also still at a high level. 

Experts said local authorities are struggling to trace infection chains.

What is Germany planning to do?

As The Local has been reporting, politicians are also concerned with how to deal with the Omicron variant.

Federal and state leaders have a range of measures to consider on Tuesday, including the closure of nightclubs and limiting private gatherings.

READ MORE: EXPLAINED – German leaders consider new restrictions to fight Omicron wave

A first draft proposes that this could happen from December 28th. 

Concerns are growing that an Omicron wave will push Covid infections up in Germany at an unmanageable level.

Munich-based virologist Ulrike Protzer, told broadcaster DW that there could be a “rapid exponential increase”.

“If you take the conservative estimate that cases double every three days – or what scientists in Britain are reporting: every two days – you only need a pocket calculator to see that that’s extremely fast,” she said.

At the start of December Germany introduced fresh restrictions, mainly for unvaccinated people. But now leaders are looking to go further.

READ ALSO: KEY POINTS – Germany’s new Covid rules to fight fourth wave

Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) said that people will see “further restrictions on private contacts” to prepare for the spread of the Omicron strain.

Vice-Chancellor Robert Habeck (Greens) told Deutschlandfunk radio: “I am sure that clubs and discos will close, and that we will reduce indoor contacts – for vaccinated people as well.” 

Meanwhile, Green party health spokesman Janosch Dahmen, said there could be widespread disruption.

“If expert predictions are confirmed and what we’re seeing in neighbouring countries continues, then we can’t rule out a general lockdown, including everything from businesses to education to private gatherings,” he told DW. 

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.

HEALTH

When, where and how can I get the flu shot in Germany?

Seasonal flu vaccines, Covid boosters, and the monkeypox vaccine are recommended for risk groups in Germany as it gets colder. Here’s what you need to know.

When, where and how can I get the flu shot in Germany?

Flu cases are way up in Germany this year – back to over 22,000 nationwide so far, and those are just the laboratory-confirmed ones. With many Covid-19 restrictions also having slowed the spread of flu in 2020 and 2021, German doctors are particularly encouraging at-risk groups to get this year’s flu vaccine.

Who?

In principle, anyone in Germany can speak to their doctor and get the flu vaccine. However, it is recommended particularly for certain at-risk groups.

According to the German Robert Kock Institute (RKI), which advises the government on viruses, these groups include:

  • anyone over the age of 60
  • pregnant women from their second trimester
  • people with chronic underlying medical conditions such as diabetes, HIV, Multiple Sclerosis, or various heart conditions
  • People who live or work in care homes
  • Medical personnel
  • People who work in areas with particularly high amounts of traffic. These could include schools or Kitas, for example
  • People who live with or care for someone from one of these groups

When?

Flu season’s peak is normally expected in January. That’s why doctors advise you to have your protection in place before then. So the best time to get vaccinated for the flu is between October and December.

With the vaccine taking about 10-14 days to kick in, doctors advise making sure you have the shot by mid-December, so that when the season peaks in January, your body is prepared to fight off the virus if you come in contact with it.

Where?

The easiest place to get a flu vaccine is at your doctor’s office. However, some health authorities run public vaccination campaigns, depending on your federal state. Some workplaces may also administer flu shots on site once a year.

For the first time this season though, pharmacies in Germany will be able to administer a flu shot to any adult with statutory health insurance. Check with your local pharmacy to see if they do it.

Can I get the flu shot at the same time as my Covid-19 booster shot?

In most cases, there are no restrictions on getting the flu shot and a Covid booster at the same time. Most flu vaccines given in Germany are inactivated viruses, which can be administered simultaneously with a flu shot. You don’t have to wait between getting one shot and getting the other.

If giving it you at the same time, your doctor will likely use both arms – one for each vaccine.

READ ALSO: What to know about getting a fourth Covid vaccination in Germany

What about Monkeypox?

Germany has now seen its total number of reported monkeypox cases hit 3,656—with around half of all cases being reported in Berlin. With more and more people getting vaccinated though, the seven-day average of new infections has slowed from a peak of 71 per day in mid-July to less than one a day in October.

That’s far less than the US rate of 105 a day or even Spain at just over four a day.

The vast majority of cases worldwide and in Germany have been detected in gay and bisexual men, whom German health authorities are still advising to get vaccinated if they haven’t already.

Other risk groups include people who work in certain laboratories where they might become exposed, and people who have already potentially been exposed.

Someone who suspects they’ve been in contact with a confirmed case of monkeypox is advised to get a vaccine shot within four days.

READ ALSO: Who can get the monkeypox vaccine in Germany – and how?

SHOW COMMENTS