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COVID-19

Millions of Germans no longer considered ‘fully vaccinated’ on public transport

People who've had the Johnson & Johnson Covid vaccine could find themselves on the wrong side of '3G' rules this week as public transport operators say they will no longer be counted as fully vaccinated.

ICE train at Berlin Hauptbahnhof
Passengers enter an ICE train at Berlin Hauptbahnhof. Proof of vaccination, recovery or a negative test is needed to travel on trains in Germany. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Carsten Koall

The change comes on the back of changes to the definition of ‘fully vaccinated’ under German law.

Guidance from the Paul Ehrlich Institute and Ministry of Health now states that people who’ve had a shot of Johnson & Johnson (J&J) now require a second shot of either J&J an mRNA vaccine such as Pfizer/BioNTech in order to be considered fully vaccinated. 

Previously, J&J had been the only Covid vaccine to require just one dose – rather than two – for full vaccination protection. 

READ ALSO: Are people who’ve had the single J&J jab no longer fully vaccinated in Germany?

Speaking to The Local on Tuesday, a spokesperson for German rail operator Deutsche Bahn confirmed that people who’ve had just one shot of J&J would need a negative test in order to travel on their trains in future.

“Unless passengers have been vaccinated or have recovered, they must carry proof of a negative Covid test,” the spokesperson said.

The definition of ‘vaccinated’ is based on guidance from the Paul Ehrlich Institute, which currently states that two shots are needed for full inoculation with J&J, the spokesperson confirmed.

“We are still in constant contact with the federal and state ministries and authorities regarding Covid,” they said. “The authorities are constantly adapting the pandemic response to the current situation – also in the area of mobility. We follow and implement these regulations.”

Since November 24th, the so-called ‘3G’ rule has applied on public transport, meaning customers should carry proof of vaccination, recovery or a negative test in order to travel. 

If customers don’t have at least one of these documents with them, they are generally asked to leave the train at the next station and can also be hit with fines. 

READ ALSO: Germany brings in nationwide ‘3G’ rules on public transport

‘A scandal’ 

Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) has faced harsh criticism for the sudden rule-change, which was described by German newspaper Welt as a “scandal”. 

“By shifting the information online, hundreds of thousands of people were downgraded overnight to unvaccinated without their knowledge and de facto excluded from public life until they received their (second) vaccination,” wrote Welt commentator Benjamin Stibi. 

Question marks remain about how quickly the new rules will be implemented by the states in other areas of public life where access is restricted to people who are fully vaccinated or recovered.

This includes the majority of indoor public spaces, such as non-essential shops, cinemas and gyms. 

Meanwhile, in hospitality businesses like bars, cafes and restaurants, fully vaccinated people require a negative test or a booster jab for entry. 

This means that those who have had a second jab after Johnson & Johnson – a dose that was previously considered a booster – could now require a negative test to eat out or meet friends for drinks.

READ ALSO: How Germany’s 2G-plus Covid rules have left millions of people confused

The rule change is also likely to have an impact on people who work on-site, as a ‘3G’ rule (vaccination, recovery or test) applies in the workplace.

It could also impact people travelling into Germany with one dose of J&J who may no longer be seen as fully vaccinated. The Local has contacted the Health Ministry for clarification on this point and we’ll updated you when we receive an answer.

According to data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), around 5.3 million doses of Johnson & Johnson have been given out in Germany since the start of the pandemic.

The country is expecting a delivery of a further 18 million doses this year. 

Member comments

  1. I am confused about this: I received J&J in April then a booster in December and am not eligible for another booster until March. Also, I got COVID in January and have a recovery certificate. Does anyone know if I will be considered ok for 2g+ until March (aka I won’t need a negative test)? Thanks!

    1. You still may have a hard time explaining it to the inspector in a restaurant.
      But you are technically and legally boosted after your second vaccination. This is as per the latest change that is just coming in.

      Your booster status will go away again in February (90 days after the second shot), and you will have to get a third vaccination in order to retain it.

  2. I see some good news coming in for people vaccinated with J&J.

    I got J&J in June last year and the second vaccination on 2nd Jan. Up until yesterday, the second vaccination was just the `second vaccination` and was not considered a booster. So it only made you fully vaccinated and not boosted.
    So until yesterday I wouldn’t be considered 2G plus and would require a negative test for entry in a restaurant or bar.

    But today, the rules have changed. If you had your `second vaccination more than 14days ago and less than 90 days ago`, you will be on equal footing with a classical 3/3 series.

    But this privilege will go away after 90 days of the second vaccination, forcing to get a third jab to be considered boosted again.

    Still very complicated, but comes as a relief I would say.

    So yeah- Long story short . Even for J&J , if you got your second vaccination 14 days back, you will be considered boosted.

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COVID-19 RULES

Four German states call for end to mandatory Covid isolation

People in Germany have to isolate at home for at least five days if they test positive for Covid. But four states want to see a change to this rule.

Four German states call for end to mandatory Covid isolation

In a joint letter, the states of Baden-Württemberg, Bavaria, Hesse, and Schleswig-Holstein called on Health Minister Karl Lauterbach to drop the isolation requirement for people who get a Covid infection in Germany. 

Baden-Württemberg health minister Manne Lucha, of the Greens, said there should be a move towards people taking personal responsibility rather than the state ordering an isolation period, reported the Tagesschau. 

“We should gradually get into the mode of treating a corona infection like any other infectious disease where the rule is: if you are sick, stay at home,” said the Green politician.

The rules on isolation differ slightly from state to state in Germany, but the general requirement is that people who test positive for Covid have to go into isolation at home and avoid all contact with people outside the household. The isolation period lasts at least five days or a maximum of 10 days.

In some states, and for hospital and care workers, a negative test is required to end the isolation period early.

Several politicians – as well as Andreas Gassen, chairman of the board of the National Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians, have previously spoken out in favour of ending all Covid isolation and quarantine obligations.

READ ALSO: Should Germany get rid of Covid mandatory isolation?

The four German states called on Lauterbach, of the Social Democrats, to change the rules by October 10th.

In their letter, they refer to Austria, where the isolation obligation has been replaced by so-called “traffic restrictions” since August 1st.

Under these rules, people who get Covid-19 have to wear an FFP2 mask for 10 days in most places, and they are not allowed to visit nursing homes and clinics. They can, however, go to their workplace.

“The end of mandatory isolation has not led to any relevant increase in reported cases in Austria,” the four German health ministers said in their letter.

They argued that much of the population in Germany is immunised, either through vaccination or infection.

However, Lauterbach has so far rejected calls to get rid of the isolation requirement. He said that due to Covid cases rising, he didn’t want to “add fuel to the fire” and increase the risk of infections occurring in companies or at gatherings.

Bavaria’s health minister Klaus Holetschek (CSU), said he was worried about lots of people having to take time off work to isolate at the same time, which could put pressure on critical infrastructure. 

Schleswig-Holstein’s health minister Kerstin von der Decken (CDU), said the adjustment of the isolation rules would be “a step on the way back to normality.”

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