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COVID-19 VACCINES

2G-plus: What people who’ve had the J&J jab in Germany need to know

German states are rolling out tougher '2G-plus' restrictions. But people who've had the Johnson & Johnson vaccine may not be aware that they need a booster jab on top of their second vaccine - or they have to take a test to visit a restaurant.

A sign for entry to the German museum in Munich.
A sign for entry to the German museum in Munich says vaccinated and recovered people need a booster or negative test. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Peter Kneffel

What’s happening?

With German states tightening the entry requirements to get into restaurants, bars and cafes (and in some states, leisure and cultural facilities), people need to be aware of their vaccination status. 

The 2G-plus rule means that vaccinated and recovered people need a Covid test, or to have had a booster shot. Unvaccinated people are not allowed to enter. 

So if I’ve had a booster shot I don’t need to take a test?

Exactly. Now booster shots are really showing their benefit when it comes to restrictions in Germany, as well as for your health (because it ups the protection against Covid-19).

Most people in Germany have had three doses of a vaccine when they get their booster. That is two mRNA doses (Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna) for basic immunisation and a booster (usually mRNA), or with three doses of a combination of a vector vaccine like AstraZeneca and mRNA vaccines.

But around 3.5 million people in Germany have had the Johnson & Johnson single dose vaccine, also known as Janssen. 

Previously, people were classed as being fully vaccinated when they got the single dose J&J vaccine.

Later last year, however, Germany’s vaccine advisory board STIKO advised that people who got J&J should get an mRNA shot anytime four weeks after their first vaccine. 

This was thought to be an earlier booster shot because there was no mention at the time of another jab on top of this. 

But The Local has found in recently published German government advice (dated December 21st 2021) on booster vaccines that people vaccinated with J&J are recommended to get a booster shot of an mRNA vaccine “after a further three months” after their second dose.

The government says that the second vaccine dose from four weeks after the first vaccine dose is “to optimise the first vaccination”, so it is not classed as a booster, but rather the completion of a full course of vaccination. 

READ ALSO: What we know so far about Germany’s 2G-plus rules for restaurants

What does this mean then?

People who’ve had J&J and another top-up shot may have thought they were boosted and wouldn’t have to take a test to visit a restaurant under 2G-plus rules. 

But it looks like this group of people will have to take a Covid test to visit a bar or restaurant until they get their third shot (although there may be state differences – see more below). 

We contacted the German Health Ministry to ask for clarification on this. 

A spokesman told us that from a medical point of view, the recommended vaccination with an mRNA vaccine four weeks after the J&J shot “is to be considered as completion of the basic immunisation”. 

Experts said more protection was needed. 

“The frequency distribution of vaccination breakthroughs observed in Germany according to the interval between vaccination and disease indicates a deficient primary vaccination protection by a single Janssen vaccination,” said the Health Ministry spokesman.

“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 spokesman added that following changes in December 2021, a vaccination with J&J two months after initial dose is possible as a booster shot, and can also be used as a top-up shot after two doses of an mRNA vaccine. 

Are there any differences between states?

Yes, anecdotally we’ve heard that in some states having J&J plus another mRNA vaccine does count as being boosted. So there is a lot of confusion over this. 

According to broadcaster ZDF this is the case in the states of Hamburg, Hesse, North Rhine-Westphalia, Rhineland-Palatinate and Thuringia. Check with your local authority. 

Member comments

    1. I guess that would be up to the country you are going to.

      My understanding is that you now need the 2nd jab of mRNA to be considered fully vaccinated here in Germany.

      The stupid thing with this now is that with 2G+ now being widespread is, if cannot have your 3rd jab because you are with 3 months of your 2nd then you now have to produce a negative test in order the 3rd to go into a restaurant, cafe or bar.

      If you’re within the 3 month window surely you are as vaccinated as you can be given the 3 months that you now have to for the 3rd jab.

      Doesn’t make sense to me.

      1. I should have read it back a second time 🙂

        * The stupid thing with this now is that with 2G+ now being widespread is, if cannot have your 3rd jab because you are with 3 months of your 2nd then you now have to produce a negative test in order to go into a restaurant, cafe or bar.

    2. Not for crossing into Germany. I’m not sure for different countries.
      But to enter Germany you now need:
      2x j&j jabs. Or 1 and an mrna is classed as basic vaccination.

      Basically you need to be withing the time limit of.
      1 jab.
      1 jab plus second (initial vaccination)
      2 jabs
      2 jabs plus booster or infection.

      1 jab I think is ok withing 3 months.
      This is how I’ve understood it anyways.

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COVID-19 VACCINES

Where – and how – people can get the new Omicron vaccine in Germany

Three German states have started rolling out new Covid vaccines that are specially adapted to the Omicron variant. Here's who's eligible to get a jab and how to go about it.

Where - and how - people can get the new Omicron vaccine in Germany

What are the Omicron vaccines and how are they different?

In the latest phase of the Covid pandemic, the Omicron variant has been by far the most dominant variant worldwide. Though Omicron is believed to cause milder courses of illness than preceding variants like Delta, it’s known for being highly transmissible and adept at evading 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.

Like their previous Covid vaccines, the latest from BioNTech and Moderna are mRNA vaccines, a recently developed vaccine type that teaches our bodies to produce an immune response when exposed a molecule known as a messenger RNA. The difference is that these vaccines are what’s known as “bivalent”, meaning they contain both a component of the original strain of Covid alongside a component of the BA.1, BA.4 and BA.5 Omicron subtypes respectively.

READ ALSO: EU approves new dual-strain Covid vaccines in time for autumn booster campaigns

That means they’re designed to both offer protection against Covid caused by previous variants as well as the new Omicron subtypes. 

As with other Covid vaccines, the Omicron vaccines are only believed to offer greater protection from infection for a short time after getting the jab. However, studies suggest that they continue to offer good protection against severe courses of illness. 

Where are the jabs being rolled out in Germany?

So far, only a handful of northern German states are offering the new BA.4 and BA.5 vaccine, though GPs have been able to order doses of Moderna’s BA.1 vaccine for a few weeks now.

One of the first states offering the latest Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is Berlin, where both doctors’ practices and the Ring Center Vaccination Centre in Friedrichshain have been providing Omicron vaccinations since Tuesday.

A list of clinics with doses of the specially adapted vaccines can be found here (in German). Alternatively, people can head to the vaccination clinic at the Ring Center between 9am and 7:30pm daily, with or without an appointment. 

In Lower Saxony, GPs are currently able to obtain up to 240 doses of the new BA.4/BA.5 vaccine from Pfizer/BioNTech. Vaccination centres such as the Impfzentrum am Landtag in Hannover are also offering the new Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. 

Around 145 mobile vaccination teams are also expected to receive doses of the new vaccine over the course of the week, meaning people who aren’t able to get a jab at their doctors’ surgery or vaccination centre yet can look out for pop-up clinics in places like shopping malls and on the high street.

In Bremen, the latest BA.4/BA.5 adapted vaccine from Pfizer has been used as the standard booster shot in a number of vaccination centres since Thursday. People who are interested in the Omicron vaccine can get it at the vaccination centre Am Brill, in the vaccination centres in Bremen-Nord, Bremen-Ost and at the centre in Bremerhaven. Mobile vaccination teams have also received doses of the new vaccine.

Due to the current high level of demand, people are being advised to book an appointment ahead of time at www.impfzentrum.bremen.de. 

Doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech Omicron vaccine are expected to be rolled out in other German states in the coming weeks. 

Are the new vaccines recommended for everyone?

On September 20th, Germany’s Standing Vaccines Commission (STIKO) updated its guidance to recommend that the latest Omicron vaccines are used when doctors are giving out booster jabs. 

That means that anyone who hasn’t had a third dose of Covid vaccine should soon be able to get an Omicron booster as standard. 

However, STIKO currently only recommends second boosters (or fourth jabs) for certain groups who are at risk of severe courses of Covid: people over the age of 60, nursing home residents, staff at care homes and hospitals and people with existing immune system deficiencies. 

For this group, the fourth dose should only be administered more than six months after the third dose, according to STIKO. This can be reduced to four months in exception circumstances.

People who don’t fall into any of these categories may still be able to get a dose of one of the newest Omicron vaccines after a consultation with their doctor. 

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

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