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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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Germany’s Scholz rules out second attempt at vaccine mandate

After an attempt to introduce an over-60s vaccine mandate was rejected in parliament, German chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) has said his government will not bring the issue to a vote again.

Germany's Scholz rules out second attempt at vaccine mandate

Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) has rejected the idea of a second attempt to introduce mandatory Covid vaccinations.

“There is no legislative majority in the Bundestag for compulsory vaccination,” he said on Thursday evening after consultations with the leaders of the federal states in Berlin.

Expressing his regret at the lack of support for the move, he said this reality would have to be the “starting point” for any future vaccination drives. 

“I am, of course, disappointed that there was no majority today, I don’t want to hide that at all,” said Scholz. “I am still convinced that it would be right to have compulsory vaccination in Germany. With the Bundestag decision, however, a very clear statement by the legislator had now been made.”

Despite the fact that Covid-19 vaccines have been available in Germany for more than a year, around 24 percent of the population still have no vaccine protection whatsoever.

Of these, around 4-5 percent are too young to get the Covid vaccine, but around 20 percent are either against the idea or still on the fence. 

“We will do everything we can to convince even more citizens of this country to get vaccinated,” Scholz told reporters. “This will require our creativity.”

READ ALSO: Scholz gets stinging defeat in parliament with Covid jab vote

On Thursday, a bill for compulsory vaccination for everyone over the age of 60 was voted down in the Bundestag, dealing a painful blow to its supporters in the traffic-light coalition. 

The bill had been promoted primarily by SPD and Green MPs, including Scholz himself and Federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD). A motion from the opposition CDU/CSU parties to introduce a vaccine register and potential target vaccine mandates was also rejected by the house. 

‘Bitter defeat’

Scholz is not alone in ruling out the possibility of reviving the vaccine mandate issue. 

Speaking to Tagesschau in Berlin, Health Minister Karl Lauterbach said the failure of the bill had been a “bitter defeat” that made it unlikely that any future bill on the subject would gain enough support to succeed.

“It’s a clear result that has to be lived with,” he said. “I’m sceptical about whether we can still achieve anything through additional talks.”

In a democracy, he said, this had to be respected.

But he explained that the failure of compulsory vaccination is bad news for vulnerable patients, for those who work to treat and care for Covid patients, and for all those who have to live with restrictions. A new wave of infections is likely by autumn at the latest, Lauterbach said.

READ ALSO: German Health Minister to target undecided in new Covid jab campaign