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What parents should know about getting a Covid jab for their child in Germany

Since mid-December, several of Germany's large vaccination centres have been offering Covid jabs for 5-12 year olds - but misunderstandings around the rules have meant some people have been turned away. Here's what parents need to know.

Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine for children
Doses of the child-friendly Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine sit in a bowl at a child vaccination event in Saxony-Anhalt. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-Zentralbild | Matthias Bein

Can my child get a Covid jab?

As a rule, all children over the age of five should be able to get a jab either at a vaccination centre, paediatrician or with a mobile vaccination team. However, not every state vaccination centre offers vaccinations for children every day – and there can be restrictions depending on your child’s circumstances.

Generally, vaccinations for children aged 5-12 are carried out by a paediatrician or other health professional with experience of treating children, so you may find that the service is restricted to certain days of the week or timeslots. 

When booking an appointment, it’s therefore important to make sure that you’re going to the right place at the right time. You should be able to find information on when and where young children can get vaccinated on the government website of the state where you live, or by following the links for appointments listed in this article (in German.)

An alternative, and slightly easier route, is to get in touch with your paediatrician to discuss your child’s health and any risks associated with Covid and/or the vaccination. Though Covid has placed a lot of these practices under pressure lately, they will nonetheless be happy to discuss your options or even offer you an appointment for your child’s Covid vaccination at a later date. 

READ ALSO: State by state: Where children in Germany can get vaccinated against Covid

What if my child has a pre-existing condition? 

If your child is 5-12 years old has a pre-existing health condition such as asthma or a lung condition, you should be able to get an appointment for them with few issues. That’s because the Standing Vaccines Commission (STIKO) has primarily recommended Covid vaccinations for younger children with pre-existing health conditions – or those who have regular contact with someone in a risk group, such as an elderly grandparent.

However, STIKO has also made it clear that even perfectly healthy children shouldn’t be turned away if their parents are keen to get them vaccinated against Covid-19. There are exceptions, though.

If your child has no pre-existing conditions but has already recovered from a previous Covid illness, you’re likely to have a harder time getting them vaccinated at a state centre. In this case – and generally if they don’t have a pre-existing condition – it’s best to request a vaccination with a paediatrician first. 


What do I need to bring?

When you turn up to your appointment, you’ll need to make sure you have at least one form of ID for your child with you. Generally, this will need to be a passport, ID card or birth certificate.

The yellow vaccination booklet, unfortunately, doesn’t count as ID – though you’ll need to have this with you to record your child’s vaccination. Since you don’t need health insurance to get a free-of-charge Covid jab, you won’t need to bring their health insurance card with you either – and it also won’t be accepted as a form of ID. 

If your child has a pre-existing condition, you should also bring any necessary medical documents with you as proof. 

How does it all work?

Firstly, it’s important to note that you will need to book an appointment rather than simply showing up. According to German news site Focus, demand is particularly high at lunchtimes, weekends and from 4pm onwards, so parents should bear this in mind when booking. 

When you turn up for the appointment, you’ll need to check in with your name, date of birth, gender and home address. At this point, you’ll need to present your child’s ID and any other medical documents. 

You will likely be asked the age of your child, whether they have a pre-existing condition and whether they have recently recovered from Covid. As mentioned above, your answers could determine whether your child is offered a jab at the vaccination centre or not. 

Child vaccination at the Zoo

Children enter the vaccination centre at Hannover Zoo. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Julian Stratenschulte

The next step is to sign the medical history form and the consent form. At this point, you should have the opportunity to request a medical consultation if you want one.

For children aged 5-12, the vaccination will be carried out by a train paediatrician, and it will be with a lowered dose of BioNTech/Pfizer. After the vaccination is completed, the digital vaccination certificate will be printed out and the vaccination will be noted in the yellow vaccination booklet. In many vaccination centres, you’ll also be able to make an appointment for the second jab in a number of weeks, if you haven’t done this already. 

What about children over the age of 12? 

For children over the age of 12, it’s generally possible to get a first, second or booster jab at a vaccination centre with few problems. Just make sure you stick to the recommended intervals between doses, because failing to do so may result in you and your family being turned away.

For example, you should wait at least three months (or 90 days) after a Covid infection or first jab before turning up at the vaccination centre. The intervals between the second jab and booster, meanwhile, vary from state to state. In Berlin, for example, your child will only have to wait three months, while North Rhine-Westphalia insists on a five-month gap between the second and third dose. 

READ ALSO: German state vaccination centres roll out booster jabs for teenagers

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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