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COVID-19 VACCINES

German Health Minister calls for mandatory vaccinations from ‘April or May’

With Covid infections reaching record highs in Germany, Health Minister Karl Lauterbach has reiterated his calls for a general vaccine mandate, which he says should come into force in the first half of this year.

Health Minister Karl Lauterbach speaks at a press conference in Berlin on Friday.
Health Minister Karl Lauterbach speaks at a press conference in Berlin on Friday. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Kay Nietfeld

In order to immunise as many unvaccinated people as possible ahead of a possible new Covid wave in autumn, mandatory vaccinations would have to come into force soon, Lauterbach said. 

“If we want to propose a motion that still works, then that’s a motion that puts compulsory vaccination into effect… in April or around April, maybe in May,” Lauterbach told the German news programme RTL Direkt on Tuesday evening.

Lauterbach and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz (both SPD) are in favour of a general vaccination requirement, but there are already many opposing voices. 

READ ALSO: Scholz pushes mandatory jabs as resistance grows in Germany

The Chairman of the Board of the National Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians (KBV), Andreas Gassen, said doctors shouldn’t be forced to carry out mandatory jabs.

“We will not expect our doctors to carry out compulsory vaccination against the will of the patients,” Gassen told Bild newspaper.

“The practices are not a place to enforce state measures, but rather they are about the relationship of trust between doctor and patient.” 

Speaking to The Local in December, FDP health expert Dr Andrew Ullmann said that no-one would be physically forced to have the Covid-19 vaccine under mandates, but vaccine refusers could face a fine if they can’t provide proof of being vaccinated in certain situations (for example, in the workplace).

How will vaccine mandates be debated?

There is no planned government proposal from the coalition on a general vaccine requirement. Instead, cross party groups are to bring motions on the issue to parliament.

MPs will then debate and decide in the coming weeks. They will be permitted to vote against their own party line in what’s known as a vote of conscience.

Within the coalition there are different views on the issue. Some Free Democrat (FDP) politicians, for instance, support compulsory vaccinations for older people, while other FDP MPs – particularly those who support party vice-chairman Wolfgang Kubicki – reject compulsory vaccination altogether.

“I am of the opinion that the German Bundestag should vote on general compulsory vaccination against coronavirus in March after thorough consultation,” Green Party health expert Janosch Dahmen told Redaktionsnetzwerk Deutschland (RND).

READ ALSO: German MPs to decide on general vaccine mandate ‘in March’

To keep this time frame, “it would make sense to discuss the group motions for the first time in February,” he added.

The first debate will take place in the Bundestag next week.

Vocabulary

Compulsory vaccination – (die) Impfpflicht

Motion/proposal – (der) Antrag

Matter of conscience/moral question – (die) Gewissensfrage

We’re aiming to help our readers improve their German by translating vocabulary from some of our news stories. Did you find this article useful? Let us know.

Member comments

    1. Unfortunately and the most terrifyingly. There are people who actually support this move.

    2. The same fearmongering so common in the MSM. I support Rheiner Fullmich of the Corona Investigative Committee. Mr Lauterbach has obviously forgotten the Nuremberg Code. What are the statistics for adverse reactions and deaths never see anything about that in the MSM.
      I prefer to listen to independent medical and scientific experts not those who are the pharmaceutical companies mouthpieces. These experimental gene therapy jabs are still in stage 3 until 2023. Funny how cases have risen so much after the jabs were rolled out.

  1. An he’s back to looking like a 1930’s caricature of some guy that was around back then.

  2. The sooner the plague-rat anti-vax nutters are forced to stop spreading diseases that kill people the better

    1. Vaccines do NOTHING to stop transmission. They do protect against severe illness so it should be up to the individual to choose. After Omicron, there is no longer an argument for mandates in order to stop the spread.

    2. Yes!!! Let’s round them up in trains, move them to certain cramped spaces and then “deal” with them! That worked miracles in 1940!

  3. Given that Omicron is milder and will thus inevitably and harmlessly impute immunity to many, as well as the fact that vaccines (even 3 doses) no longer prevent transmission or infection, these mandates are about nothing else than unbridled authoritarianism.

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COVID-19 VACCINES

What to know about getting a fourth Covid vaccination in Germany

With Covid cases rising, many people in Germany are wondering if they should get a fourth Covid jab - or second booster. Here's what you should keep in mind.

What to know about getting a fourth Covid vaccination in Germany

German states have started giving out new Covid vaccines that are specially adapted to the Omicron variant.

Though the Omicron variant is believed to cause milder courses of illness than earlier variants like Delta, it’s known for being highly transmissible and is often able to evade 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. 

Who should get the fourth Covid shot (second booster)?

People who belong to ‘at risk’ groups should think about getting a booster shot this autumn.

The official recommendation from the Standing Commission on Vaccination (STIKO) stipulates that people over the age of 60 should get a further booster vaccination.

In addition, people over the age of 12 who have an underlying condition that can lead to severe illness with Covid-19 should also get a shot.

Experts also recommend that residents and staff in nursing homes or long-term care facilities receive a fourth jab.

READ ALSO: When – and how – people can get the new Omicron vaccine in Germany

In STIKO’s latest guidance dated September 20th, experts also say that it may be appropriate for people at particular risk, for instance the very elderly or people with immunodeficiency, to get another shot (a fifth jab) after the fourth vaccination, although that would depend on several factors and a medical consultation. 

A Covid test centre in Rostock, northern Germany.

A Covid test centre in Rostock, northern Germany. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Bernd Wüstneck

Should people under the age of 60 get a fourth jab?

If people don’t fall into a risk group and are under the age of 60, they can still receive a fourth vaccination, although it’s not officially recommended. You should have a consultation with your GP – or a doctor carrying out Covid vaccinations – if you are interested in getting the fourth jab. 

How do vaccination centres handle people under 60 who want to get another Covid shot?

There have been occasional reports in Germany that younger people who don’t belong to a risk group have been turned away from vaccination centres because they don’t qualify for a booster jab. 

However, The Local has anecdotally heard that people have been able to get a jab from a vaccination station or centre, regardless of their health condition or age.

A spokesperson at the health department of the city Munich told broadcaster BR24 that carrying out a fourth vaccination is decided on a case-by-case basis and is a decision taken by the medical expert giving out the jab “in each case”.

Where is the fourth vaccination available? 

There are still lots of walk-in vaccination centres across the country, while many doctors and pharmacies also carry out jabs. You should search online or contact your GP for more information. 

Many towns and cities are reporting a significant increase in demand since the new vaccines adapted for Omicron variants became available.

READ ALSO: Munich sees sharp rise in Covid cases after Oktoberfest

How many people in Germany have been vaccinated?

According to official figures, 76.3 percent of the German population has received two Covid jabs. Just over 62 percent have also received a booster jab, and 9.9 percent have been given a second booster vaccination.

Around 18.4 million people (22.2 percent) in Germany are not vaccinated. For four million of these people aged 0 to four years (4.8 percent), no licensed vaccine is available.

Does getting the flu vaccination help against Covid?

Coronaviruses and the flu are different viruses, so the flu jab cannot protect against Covid-19. However, those who have a weaker immune system can strengthen their body in fighting a virus by getting a flu shot, according to experts. The immune system can then better use resources it saves against a possible Covid infection.

The fourth Covid jab and the flu shot can be administered to patients at the same time, according to the STIKO – although they don’t have to be.

If this is the case, the injections are given in different arms. However, it could be the case that patients have a stronger reaction if both jabs are carried out at the same time, so keep that in mind. 

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

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