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COVID-19 VACCINES

‘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?

Vocabulary

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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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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