‘Doubtful’: German government rows over general vaccine mandate

A dispute has erupted in Germany's governing coalition over plans to introduce a vaccine mandate for all adults, after the Justice Minister called such a law ‘constitutionally dubious.’

‘Doubtful’: German government rows over general vaccine mandate
A sign reads 'stick you vaccine in the..' at a protest against vaccine mandates in Düsseldorf on Saturday. Photo: dpa | Roberto Pfeil

Germany’s controversial plan to bring in a general vaccine mandate for all adults received a further blow over the weekend after the Justice Minister said it was “doubtful” that such a measure would be accepted by the Constitutional Court.

“In my eyes, only serious public interests, like protecting the public health system against collapse, can justify such an intervention,” said Justice Minister Marco Buschmann, who is a member of the Free Democrats (FDP) on Sunday.

“Whether that is still an imminent danger at present is open to doubt,” he added.

Buschmann also questioned whether a vaccine mandate for all adults was necessary in order to protect the healthcare system.

“Do we need a mandatory age of 18 for this? Wouldn’t mandates above the age of 50 be just as effective?” he told Der Spiegel.

The opposition Christian Democrats have previously suggested mandatory vaccination should be restricted to people over 50, as is the case in Italy, for example.

READ ALSO: German conservatives float mandatory vaccination for over-50s

Meanwhile, FDP deputy leader Wolfgang Kubicki, a long-time critic of a general vaccine mandate, told broadcaster ARD that “the planned vaccine mandate for everyone over 18 is dead.”

Olaf Scholz’s Social Democrats, who have already drafted a bill for a vaccine mandate for all adults, reacted angrily to Buschmann’s comments.

“Our draft law is constitutional,” stated SPD faction deputy, Dirk Wiese. “We have talked it over with a large number of legal experts.”

“It should be clear to our colleague Mr. Buschmann that we will only be able to prevent restrictions next autumn if we increase the vaccination rate.”

About 75 percent of people in Germany are fully vaccinated and 56 percent have had a booster.

With a general vaccine mandate such a sensitive issue, Chancellor Olaf Scholz has pledged a free vote among members of the Bundestag on any bill. 

It is still unclear whether there is a majority in the Bundestag for any one bill.

Meanwhile, unusually, the government will not present its own bill to the Bundestag. Instead, various bills are being worked upon within and across all parties.

One bill proposes a vaccine mandate for all adults, another proposes a mandate for everyone aged 50 and over.

The proposal has already been hit by several delays. The first reading of a government bill was originally supposed to take place in January, but was then pushed back to early February. It has still not taken place.

Around two thirds of Germans support the introduction of some kind of vaccine mandate. Over half polled say it should apply to all adults, while a further 12 percent say it should apply to people over 50 years of age. 33 percent are opposed.

But opponents have made their voices heard through regular demonstrations. Over the weekend, thousands of people joined demonstrations in cities including Düsseldorf, Freiburg, and Frankfurt against the mandates.

SEE ALSO: What would a general vaccine mandate mean for the German job market?


Vaccination requirement or obligation – (die) Impfpflicht  

A “general” vaccination requirement or obligation that applies to everyone, not just specific age groups or professions – (die) Allgemeine Impfpflicht 

Member comments

  1. Let’s ignore all the news coming out about Pfizer and hiding the no of deaths and adverse reactions and the medical journal reports of how our natural immune systems are being damaged and how the majority of people in hospital with/from Covid are fully vaccinated. Plenty of evidence to show that. Not forgetting the studies that prove Ivermectin has a huge success rate. Something a lot of the Medical Professionals have been saying since 2020 although they were silenced.

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What to know about getting a fourth Covid vaccination in Germany

With Covid cases rising, many people in Germany are wondering if they should get a fourth Covid jab - or second booster. Here's what you should keep in mind.

What to know about getting a fourth Covid vaccination in Germany

German states have started giving out new Covid vaccines that are specially adapted to the Omicron variant.

Though the Omicron variant is believed to cause milder courses of illness than earlier variants like Delta, it’s known for being highly transmissible and is often able to evade the body’s immune responses. 

In September, three Omicron vaccines received EU-wide approval: two vaccines from BioNTech and Moderna adapted to the BA.1 sub-variant, and another Omicron booster from BioNTech to protect against the dominant BA.4 and BA.5 sub-variants. 

Who should get the fourth Covid shot (second booster)?

People who belong to ‘at risk’ groups should think about getting a booster shot this autumn.

The official recommendation from the Standing Commission on Vaccination (STIKO) stipulates that people over the age of 60 should get a further booster vaccination.

In addition, people over the age of 12 who have an underlying condition that can lead to severe illness with Covid-19 should also get a shot.

Experts also recommend that residents and staff in nursing homes or long-term care facilities receive a fourth jab.

READ ALSO: When – and how – people can get the new Omicron vaccine in Germany

In STIKO’s latest guidance dated September 20th, experts also say that it may be appropriate for people at particular risk, for instance the very elderly or people with immunodeficiency, to get another shot (a fifth jab) after the fourth vaccination, although that would depend on several factors and a medical consultation. 

A Covid test centre in Rostock, northern Germany.

A Covid test centre in Rostock, northern Germany. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Bernd Wüstneck

Should people under the age of 60 get a fourth jab?

If people don’t fall into a risk group and are under the age of 60, they can still receive a fourth vaccination, although it’s not officially recommended. You should have a consultation with your GP – or a doctor carrying out Covid vaccinations – if you are interested in getting the fourth jab. 

How do vaccination centres handle people under 60 who want to get another Covid shot?

There have been occasional reports in Germany that younger people who don’t belong to a risk group have been turned away from vaccination centres because they don’t qualify for a booster jab. 

However, The Local has anecdotally heard that people have been able to get a jab from a vaccination station or centre, regardless of their health condition or age.

A spokesperson at the health department of the city Munich told broadcaster BR24 that carrying out a fourth vaccination is decided on a case-by-case basis and is a decision taken by the medical expert giving out the jab “in each case”.

Where is the fourth vaccination available? 

There are still lots of walk-in vaccination centres across the country, while many doctors and pharmacies also carry out jabs. You should search online or contact your GP for more information. 

Many towns and cities are reporting a significant increase in demand since the new vaccines adapted for Omicron variants became available.

READ ALSO: Munich sees sharp rise in Covid cases after Oktoberfest

How many people in Germany have been vaccinated?

According to official figures, 76.3 percent of the German population has received two Covid jabs. Just over 62 percent have also received a booster jab, and 9.9 percent have been given a second booster vaccination.

Around 18.4 million people (22.2 percent) in Germany are not vaccinated. For four million of these people aged 0 to four years (4.8 percent), no licensed vaccine is available.

Does getting the flu vaccination help against Covid?

Coronaviruses and the flu are different viruses, so the flu jab cannot protect against Covid-19. However, those who have a weaker immune system can strengthen their body in fighting a virus by getting a flu shot, according to experts. The immune system can then better use resources it saves against a possible Covid infection.

The fourth Covid jab and the flu shot can be administered to patients at the same time, according to the STIKO – although they don’t have to be.

If this is the case, the injections are given in different arms. However, it could be the case that patients have a stronger reaction if both jabs are carried out at the same time, so keep that in mind. 

READ ALSO: Can anyone in Germany get a second Covid booster jab?