German pharmacies to offer Covid jabs ‘within two weeks’

People in Germany will be able to get a Covid-19 vaccination at a pharmacy within the next two weeks for the first time in the pandemic.

A pharmacy in Hamburg.
A pharmacy in Hamburg. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Marcus Brandt

Many pharmacies across Germany are now gearing up to offer Covid shots after government regulations were amended to allow the move. 

“It will be about one to two weeks before pharmacies can start vaccinating,” said Thomas Preis, a member of the board of the German Pharmacists’ Association. 

“The pharmacies must now first order vaccines.”

Preis said that the interest in vaccinations from pharmacies in his own region of North Rhine is “very high.”

“In the Rhineland, 1,000 pharmacists in 500 pharmacies are already willing to carry out the vaccinations,” he said. “They have already been trained in flu vaccinations. We expect another 1,000 pharmacists to be trained by February.”

The regulation requires that pharmacy employees have proof of vaccination training, and stipulates that pharmacies will be remunerated for the vaccinations, in the same way as doctors.

Germany amended Covid laws in December aimed at paving the way for allowing places like pharmacies, dentists and vets to carry out jabs.

Up until this point doctors offices, vaccination centres and special vaccine drives have been the main points for people in Germany to get inoculated against Covid-19.

READ ALSO: How Germany is tightening Covid laws to allow more restrictions

On Tuesday, Germany reported 45,690 Covid-19 infections and 322 deaths within the latest 24-hour period. 

The 7-day incidence rose to 387.9 infections per 100,000 people. 

Around 72 percent of the population is fully vaccinated against Covid, and 43.5 percent have had their booster jab. 

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EXPLAINED: The new rules around getting a sick note over the phone in Germany

Due to high Covid infection numbers throughout the summer, it’s now possible to get a sick note from a doctor over the phone again for some illnesses. Here’s what you need to know.

EXPLAINED: The new rules around getting a sick note over the phone in Germany

What’s happened?

In spring 2020, German authorities changed the law so that people with a mild upper respiratory tract illness, such as the common cold, were able to get an incapacity to work certificate or AU-Bescheinigung by simply calling and speaking to their GP.

The rule was extended several times and finally reversed on June 1st this year due to falling infection figures. Since then people have had to go back to the practice – or do a video call if the doctor’s office has that system in place – to get a sick note.

Now, due to a decision by the Joint Federal Committee, the regulation has been reintroduced and patients can call their GP again for a sick note.

Can I get a sick note over the phone for any illness?

No. As before, the regulation only applies to patients suffering from a mild upper respiratory tract illness. Though Covid has not explicitly been named in the announcement, it seems that it is intended to be covered by the regulation.

If the doctor is convinced that the patient is unfit for work after a telephone consultation, then they can issue a sick note for up to seven days.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: The changes around doctor’s notes in Germany you should know

If the symptoms persist after seven days, the certificate can be extended once more for another week.

Why now?

According to the Chairman of the G-BA, Josef Hecken, the regulation has been introduced now as a response to rising Covid numbers and in anticipation of the cold and flu season in the coming months: “We want to avoid full waiting rooms in doctors’ offices and the emergence of new infection chains,” he said.

The telephone sick leave rule is a simple, proven and uniform nationwide solution for that, he said. The rule is also necessary because video consultation hours are not yet available everywhere.

What else should I know?

The health insurer DAK is calling for telephone sick leave in the case of light respiratory diseases to be made possible on a permanent basis in Germany. DAK’s CEO Andreas Storm said that this should “not always be up for debate, because it has proven itself.” 

READ ALSO: Everything you need to know about making a doctor’s appointment in Germany

The social association VdK also welcomed the reintroduction of the rule. The VdK’s President Verena Bentele said that the regulation would help to protect high-risk groups in particular from potential infections.

What are the rules to know about sick notes in Germany?

Germany has a strict system in place. If you are sick, you need to give your employer a Krankmeldung (notification of sickness) before the start of work on the first day (of your illness).

However, you also need to hand in a Krankschreibung (doctor’s note) on the fourth day of your illness. Some employments contracts, however, require you to submit a sick not earlier than the fourth day so check with your boss or HR on that point.