What people who've had the J&J jab need to know for travel to Germany
People who've had one dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine are not seen as fully vaccinated for entry to Germany under new regulations. We break down what you should be aware of.
Previously, people who received a single shot of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, also known as Janssen, were classed as fully vaccinated in Germany.
But an amendment to the rules, which came into force earlier this month, means that people who have a single dose of J&J do not count as fully vaccinated. They have to have a second jab to be classed as fully vaccinated under the travel restrictions.
This is important when travelling to Germany because in some cases people who are not fully vaccinated are not allowed to enter the country, and if they are, they face tougher restrictions depending on the risk classification of the region they are travelling from.
The change potentially affects millions of people who've had the J&J jab in Germany - as well as many people abroad.
It comes after guidance from the Paul Ehrlich Institute (PEI) published on January 15th said that people now need two doses of J&J to be fully vaccinated.
The Local Germany contacted the Health Ministry for clarification to see how this applies to people crossing the German border.
A Health Ministry spokesman confirmed to us that there had been amendments to Germany's so-called Corona Entry Regulation.
He said that for someone who has had one dose of the J&J vaccine, "two vaccination doses are required for a complete vaccination".
"Complete vaccination protection for an initial vaccination with the Covid-19 Vaccine Janssen is also present if the second vaccination was carried out with an mRNA vaccine (Spikevax/Moderna or Corminaty/BioNTech)," he added.
Spelling it out once more, the spokesman said: "Therefore, two vaccine doses are currently required for proof of complete vaccination protection according to the Corona Entry Ordinance."
What does this mean?
People are not classed as fully vaccinated may be refused entry to Germany. Under the current travel restrictions, people have to be fully vaccinated to enter Germany from most non-EU countries.
Unvaccinated people over the age of six who are allowed to travel to Germany but are coming from a high risk country have to show proof of a negative Covid test before entering the country.
Fully vaccinated or recovered people can show proof of their vaccination/recovery instead of a test.
Unvaccinated or partially vaccinated people also have to quarantine for 10 days, with the option to shorten it with a negative test result taken at the earliest five days into quarantine.
If a country is classed as a 'virus variant area of concern' then everyone - whether they are vaccinated or not - has to show proof of a test and quarantine for 14 days on arrival in Germany. An entry ban on non-residents is also put in place if a country goes on the red list.
Why is there confusion?
People who were offered J&J last year were told that a single dose meant full vaccination status.
Later in the year, the German government issued a recommendation for J&J recipients to get a second jab with an mRNA vaccine. However, this was not a requirement to achieve full vaccination status.
Most people who had J&J thought they were getting their booster vaccination early.
Now that's changed, many people could be caught out if they are travelling.
To make things more complicated the new regulations do not necessarily apply across the board.
For instance, Deutsche Bahn told The Local that people who've only had one J&J jab would need to get a test when travelling on public transport under the 3G rules because they were following the Paul Ehrlich Institute guidance.
But Berlin's public transport BVG told us they would not be updating their restrictions, meaning people can travel on BVG services with one dose of J&J and not need a negative Covid test.
What about boosters?
To add to the confusion, most people who had J&J believed they were getting their booster jab when the recommendation for a second vaccine surfaced.
Now the government says that people who've had J&J plus a second shot need a further jab three months later - and that is their booster.
But some states say that people who've had the J&J plus another jab are already boosted.
Knowing if you are boosted or not is key for going to public places, like restaurants and cafes, in Germany. The 2G-plus rules mean that vaccinated/recovered people need to be boosted or have a negative Covid test.
What counts as a fully vaccinated person when it comes to entry into Germany?
According to the Corona Entry Regulation, a vaccinated person is an "asymptomatic person who is in possession of a vaccination certificate issued in his or her name".
The Health Ministry spokesman told us that vaccinations must comply with the "specifications published by the Paul Ehrlich Institute (PEI)".
The guidance is based on the vaccines used, the number of doses and interval times.
People are counted as being fully vaccinated in Germany two weeks after their second dose.