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COVID-19 VACCINES

Hundreds of German pharmacies begin offering Covid vaccinations

Several pharmacies in Germany have started offering Covid-19 jabs.

A person receives a Covid jab in a Mainz pharmacy.
A person receives a Covid jab in a Mainz pharmacy. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Sebastian Gollnow

The move is aimed at increasing the vaccination rate in Germany. So far around 74.5 percent of the population is fully vaccinated, and around 54.5 percent have been boosted. 

However, some people have questioned why it has taken so long for pharmacies to be allowed to offer jabs. 

There are around 18,500 pharmacies across Germany. So far about 480 are offering Covid-19 vaccinations from Tuesday, according to the Health Ministry. 

Bavarian broadcaster BR24 said there are 120 pharmacies taking part so far in the southern state.

Since the vaccination is a medical procedure, pharmacies first have to clarify the technical and legal requirements, the Bavarian Pharmacists’ Association said.

For instance, staff giving out jabs have to be trained before venues are allowed to carry out jabs.

Around 6,000 pharmacists have completed the necessary training, according to the Association of German Pharmacists. Pharmacies that offer shots receive an authorisation after completing the training which is certified by the state chamber of pharmacists.

Experts say the offer will be expanded in the coming weeks as more pharmacies prepare themselves.

People looking to find a pharmacy taking part, can visit www.mein-apothekenmanager.de.

READ ALSO: German pharmacies to offer Covid vaccinations from February 8th

‘A little late’

Pharmacist Maximiliane Rewitzer, based in Furth im Wald, told BR24 that she decided to offer the Covid-19 jab after the Bavarian regulations were changed late last year. However, she said the demand for vaccinations has dropped in general. 

Germany amended its Covid laws in December to pave the way for pharmacists, dentists and vets to carry out jabs alongside doctors.

“I think we are a little late,” said Rewitzer. 

Pharmacies are keen to point out that they are not in competition with vaccination centres and GPs.

“The pharmacies are a complementary service,” said Josef Kammermeier, a pharmacist in Regensburg and vice-chairman of the Bavarian Pharmacists’ Association.

“We know of many patients who shy away from going to the vaccination centre. That means that this addition is needed to really reach everyone in the vaccination campaign. And to no longer accept the excuse: I didn’t know or I can’t find a vaccination centre.”

Rewitzer also said she does not want to compete with local GPs. However, offering more vaccinations is a step towards making local services indispensable again, because online pharmacies are making it more difficult for the smaller local pharmacies.

The Bavarian Pharmacists’ Association said the number of pharmacies in the southern state has fallen below 3,000 for the first time since German reunification.

Pharmacists receive the same lump-sum payment per vaccination as doctors: €28 per jab during the week and €36 at the weekend.

According to the German Pharmacists’ Association, only people over the age of 12 can be vaccinated in a German pharmacy. In some shops, it could be the case that only adults are allowed to receive a shot. So check with the pharmacy to find out exactly what they offer. 

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COVID-19 VACCINES

Germany’s Scholz rules out second attempt at vaccine mandate

After an attempt to introduce an over-60s vaccine mandate was rejected in parliament, German chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) has said his government will not bring the issue to a vote again.

Germany's Scholz rules out second attempt at vaccine mandate

Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) has rejected the idea of a second attempt to introduce mandatory Covid vaccinations.

“There is no legislative majority in the Bundestag for compulsory vaccination,” he said on Thursday evening after consultations with the leaders of the federal states in Berlin.

Expressing his regret at the lack of support for the move, he said this reality would have to be the “starting point” for any future vaccination drives. 

“I am, of course, disappointed that there was no majority today, I don’t want to hide that at all,” said Scholz. “I am still convinced that it would be right to have compulsory vaccination in Germany. With the Bundestag decision, however, a very clear statement by the legislator had now been made.”

Despite the fact that Covid-19 vaccines have been available in Germany for more than a year, around 24 percent of the population still have no vaccine protection whatsoever.

Of these, around 4-5 percent are too young to get the Covid vaccine, but around 20 percent are either against the idea or still on the fence. 

“We will do everything we can to convince even more citizens of this country to get vaccinated,” Scholz told reporters. “This will require our creativity.”

READ ALSO: Scholz gets stinging defeat in parliament with Covid jab vote

On Thursday, a bill for compulsory vaccination for everyone over the age of 60 was voted down in the Bundestag, dealing a painful blow to its supporters in the traffic-light coalition. 

The bill had been promoted primarily by SPD and Green MPs, including Scholz himself and Federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD). A motion from the opposition CDU/CSU parties to introduce a vaccine register and potential target vaccine mandates was also rejected by the house. 

‘Bitter defeat’

Scholz is not alone in ruling out the possibility of reviving the vaccine mandate issue. 

Speaking to Tagesschau in Berlin, Health Minister Karl Lauterbach said the failure of the bill had been a “bitter defeat” that made it unlikely that any future bill on the subject would gain enough support to succeed.

“It’s a clear result that has to be lived with,” he said. “I’m sceptical about whether we can still achieve anything through additional talks.”

In a democracy, he said, this had to be respected.

But he explained that the failure of compulsory vaccination is bad news for vulnerable patients, for those who work to treat and care for Covid patients, and for all those who have to live with restrictions. A new wave of infections is likely by autumn at the latest, Lauterbach said.

READ ALSO: German Health Minister to target undecided in new Covid jab campaign

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