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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.

People walk in Hamburg Airport earlier in January.
People walk in Hamburg Airport earlier in January. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Jonas Walzberg

What’s happened?

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.”

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

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.

A doctor's assistant preparing the J&J vaccine in Berlin.

A doctor’s assistant preparing the J&J vaccine in Berlin. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Wolfgang Kumm

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. 

READ ALSO: Millions of Germans no longer considered fully vaccinated on public transport

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. 

A sign for the 2G-plus rules at a restaurant in Dresden.

A sign for the 2G-plus rules at a restaurant in Dresden. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-Zentralbild | Robert Michael

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. 

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

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.

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Traffic warnings issued in Germany ahead of public holiday

People travelling in Germany this week have been warned to expect heavy traffic and busy airports.

Traffic warnings issued in Germany ahead of public holiday

Germany has a nationwide public holiday on May 26th to mark the Christian holiday Ascension Day (Christi Himmelfahrt), which is also known as Father’s Day or Men’s Day.

Many people also book the Friday off work – known as a Brückentag (bridge day) – to make their annual leave go further. 

It comes after a disappointing start to the year when some public holidays fell on the weekend, meaning that most people didn’t get the day off in Germany. 

READ ALSO: German politicians call for ‘lost’ public holidays to be replaced

Meanwhile, with Covid restrictions being eased in most countries around the world, people in Germany are now desperate to make the most of their time off. 

It means that roads and airports are likely to be much busier – from Wednesday afternoon onwards. 

Germany’s biggest car club, the ADAC, warned that traffic jams were expected. 

Where are the worst traffic jams expected?

The ADAC expects the first peak of congestion on Wednesday from around 1pm to 7pm. It will also be very busy on Saturday and Sunday, while experts believe Friday will be fairly quiet on the roads. 

Roadworks might also pose a problem – the ADAC says more than 1,000 construction work sites are in place across Germany right now. 

The ADAC said the biggest traffic jams were expected around Hamburg, Berlin, Cologne, Frankfurt, Stuttgart and Munich, as well as on the following motorways:

A1 Cologne – Bremen – Hamburg – Lübeck

A2 Berlin – Hanover – Dortmund

A3 Cologne – Frankfurt – Würzburg – Nuremberg

A4 Kirchheimer Dreieck – Erfurt – Chemnitz – Dresden

A5 Hattenbacher Dreieck – Darmstadt – Karlsruhe

A6 Heilbronn – Nuremberg

A7 Hamburg – Hanover and A7 Würzburg – Füssen/Reutte

A7 Hamburg – Flensburg

A8 Stuttgart – Munich – Salzburg

A9 Munich – Nuremberg

A10 Berlin Ring

A61 Mönchengladbach – Koblenz – Ludwigshafen

A81 Stuttgart – Singen

A93 Inntaldreieck – Kufstein

A95/B2 Munich – Garmisch-Partenkirchen

A99 Munich Autobahnring

Ascension Day is also a public holiday in Austria and Switzerland. 

Road experts say there could similarly be some busy roads in these countries which could affect Germans crossing the borders. 

“This will be particularly noticeable on the access roads to the leisure regions in the lower road network of the Alpine countries – for example, in Austria the Carinthian lakes, the Salzkammergut, Lake Neusiedl and the recreational areas of the Swiss cantons of Ticino and Valais,” said the ADAC.

“Slightly longer driving times should also be planned for the Tauern, Fernpass, Brenner, Rhine Valley and Gotthard routes.”

READ ALSO: Why Germans are being warned not to cycle drunk on Father’s Day

What about airports?

German airports are also expecting a rush of passengers this week. 

From Wednesday until Sunday this week, around 77,000 passengers per day are expected at Berlin’s BER airport. On regular weekdays, between 55,000 and 65,000 passengers is the norm, while around 70,000 travellers pass through BER on the peak days of Friday and Sunday.

Passengers are urged to be at the airport at least two hours before check-in, and to keep an eye for any updates or changes to their trip from their airline.