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German MPs set out plans for over-18s vaccine mandate

A few days before the first deliberations on compulsory Covid vaccinations in the German Bundestag, politicians in favour of a vaccine mandate have set out details of their plans.

Vaccine sceptics protest in Saxony
Vaccine sceptics protest against a potential mandate in the town of Bautzen, Saxony. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-Zentralbild | Sebastian Kahnert

Speaking to DPA over the weekend, Dirk Wiese, the deputy chairman of the SPD Parliamentary Group who is working together with other politicians from the traffic coalition to flesh out proposals for the vaccine mandate, provided details of their plans.

According to Wiese, jabs could be made compulsory in Germany for anyone over the age of 18 for a limited period of one to two years. People who ignore the mandate or don’t have sufficient vaccine protection will be hit with fines. 

Though the idea of a centralised vaccine register has been floated in the past weeks, the so-called traffic light coalition parties (SPD, Greens and FDP) are keen to avoid this because it would be too time-consuming.

Instead, they would have vaccinations and exceptions checked by local public health officers.

On Friday, Wiese, together with six politicians from the Greens and the FDP, announced a group motion for compulsory vaccination from the age of 18 in a letter to all members of the Bundestag – except those of the far-right AfD party.

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

Green Party health politician Janosch Dahmen is one of the politicians tasked with shaping the legislation.

“Compulsory vaccination can make society more peaceful because it provides clarity,” he told Bild am Sonntag.

Both Dahmen and Wiese want to see fans levied on people who aren’t sufficiently vaccinated as opposed to more coercive punishments like prison sentences. 

Dirk Wiese (SPD)

Dirk Wiese (SPD) speaks in a debate on home affairs on January 12th, 2022. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Kay Nietfeld

According to the Administrative Offences Acts, government fines can be set anywhere between €5 and €1,000 unless a specific law says otherwise. That means that that fines levied on the unvaccinated could be even higher.

In neighbouring Austria, where a vaccine mandate is due to come into force in February, fines are set at a maximum of €3,600. 

Dahmen has previously come out in favour of a fine “in the middle three-digit range”, while Wiese has suggested that some of the penalties could be means-tested. 

In a press conference held in December, Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) said that people who disobeyed vaccine mandates would face “considerable” fines.

Three shots rather than two

If the traffic light’s vaccine mandate law is voted through by parliament later this year, three jabs would be required for someone to count as fully vaccinated, rather than the previous two. 

“On the basis of current studies, one can say that with three vaccinations one has achieved a good basic immunisation against a severe course of Covid,” Wiese explained.

However, if a further booster jab is recommended for certain groups of the population later in the pandemic, this additional shot would be voluntary. 

Wiese said the duration of the vaccine mandate would be guided by advice from the Covid Council of Experts, but would likely be one to two years.

The plans laid out by the governing SPD, Greens and FDP coalition aren’t without competition, however.

So far, FDP health expert Andrew Ullmann has put forward an alternative draft law that would see a vaccine mandate introduced solely for the over-50s age group, while Bundestag vice president Wolfgang Kubicki (FDP) is gathering support for legislation against compulsory jabs.

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

Vaccine mandate for health workers falters

According to reports in Tagesspiegel, a plan to introduce mandatory Covid jabs for health workers is facing major opposition from state leaders.

Though the law has already been passed by the federal parliament, states are allegedly pushing for the introduction of the law to be postponed until a so-called ‘dead’ or ‘inactivated’ vaccine – where the virus is killed off – from Novavax is available on the market.

Politicians in favour of postponing the legislation believe that the new vaccine could find more public acceptance than the current mRNA and viral vector vaccines. 

A recent survey of vaccine hesitant people found that around half of those who hadn’t got vaccinated against Covid would do so if they could get an inactivated or dead vaccine. 

This type of vaccine involves growing a virus and then killing it off to prevent any disease-creating capacity. 

State leaders are also reportedly concerned that nurses who are against vaccination could fail to turn up to work once the new law is introduced, exacerbating existing staff shortages. 

READ ALSO: ‘I was against vaccine mandates in Germany – until hospitals became overwhelmed’

“We don’t want there to be a loss of nursing capacities in the nursing and hospital sector,” Bavarian state premier Markus Söder (CSU) told the Augsburger Allgemeine.

In his view, it would be highly counterproductive if an exodus of nursing staff led to an overload of the healthcare system.

The federal government should therefore once again examine introducing a vaccine mandate for all, he argued. 

Member comments

  1. Are the AfD no longer classed as members of the Bundestag?
    This legislation only has likely end dates and
    I dont believe for one second that additional shots would be voluntary.
    Forced vaccination equals guaranteed profits and secure jobs for the politicians afterwards.

  2. From the country that brought you forced sterilisation and forced euthanasia , now a forced experimental ‘vaccine’ also ‘for the greater good’. Ignore the echoes of history at your peril. Real democracy means persuading the public and it’s messy and not as efficient as diktat but it’s what we want. We have no desire, for the greater good or otherwise, to see old German methods or indeed current Chinese methods deployed against us.

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COVID-19 VACCINES

Germany’s vaccine panel recommends Covid jabs for all children over five

The German Standing Committee on Vaccination (STIKO) has recommend that all children aged 5-11 receive a Covid-19 vaccination.

Germany's vaccine panel recommends Covid jabs for all children over five

Children in this age group should be given a one-time jab with an mRNA vaccine, preferably with BioNTech/Pfizer, STIKO said on Tuesday. 

Up until this point, STIKO had only recommend that children aged five to 11 with pre-existing conditions, and those who have contact with at-risk individuals, be given Covid shots – although healthy children were able to get jabbed if their parents organised it with a doctor.

Experts said the majority of children have likely had a Covid infection. They estimated that 77.5 percent of 5-11 year olds have had at least one contact with the virus. 

For this reason, children aged 5-11 are only recommended to receive one Covid 19 vaccine dose for the time being, the standing committee said. 

In order to make the vaccine suitable for young children, Pfizer/BioNTech has developed a lower-dosed version of its Covid vaccine.

STIKO also said children aged six and older could get a Moderna jab.

The vaccination should be administered at least three months after a known infection, the recommendation states.

The recommendation has been made as a precautionary measure because a renewed increase in Covid infections is expected in autumn and winter, STIKO said.

“The initial one-time vaccination aims to build up as good a basic immunity as possible now,” experts said.

READ ALSO: Five things to know about the Covid pandemic in Germany right now

In Germany, just under 20 percent of 5-11 year olds are vaccinated.

STIKO said that children who have already received two jabs shouldn’t receive another shot at the moment. 

But for children with underlying illnesses or who have contact with at-risk groups, STIKO confirmed the recommendation of basic immunisation with two doses as well as a booster jab on top of those. 

A general vaccination recommendation in Germany has been in place for children over the age of 12 for some time, while no Covid vaccine has yet been approved for children under five. 

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