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COVID-19 VACCINES

German MPs join forces on new bill for over-60s vaccine mandate

Two groups of pro-vaccine MPs have united around a joint bill that would require all German residents over the age of 60 to be triple-vaccinated by October.

German vaccination centre
Two elderly Germans arrive for a Covid vaccination at a Berlin vaccination centre. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-Pool | Kay Nietfeld

The new bill sees MPs from across the house unite around a compromise, increasing the likelihood of the vaccine mandate gaining a majority when it is put to the house on Thursday.

Under the draft law proposed by politicians from the ruling coalition parties – the Social Democrats (SPD), Free Democrats (FDP) and Greens – residents of Germany who are over 60 will have to present proof that they have received three Covid vaccinations by October 1st this year. 

Meanwhile, unvaccinated adults will be required to attend a consultation with a medical professional to discuss getting a vaccination. 

Originally, two competing bills in favour of a vaccine mandate were set to be put to parliament on April 8th.

READ ALSO: ANALYSIS: Will Germany introduce a vaccine mandate this year?

The first would have mandated Covid jabs for all over-18s, while the second was a mandate for over-50s with compulsory counselling for unvaccinated adults.

Facing the prospect of failure in the Bundestag, the group supporting over-18s mandates subsequently agreed to amend their bill in favour of a more restrictive age limit. 

However, the new draft law sees both groups agree on a compromise proposal with the aim of combining support and also attracting votes from the opposition parties.

The bill also contains provisions for a review of the situation in September, which could result in the vaccine mandate being expanded to include all over-18s. This would be a likely step if a new, more deadly virus variant were to take the place of Omicron in the coming months.  

Announcing the proposals on Twitter, Greens health spokesperson Janosh Dahmen said the MPs were “reaching out the hand” to the conservatives to ask for their support.

“The goal of taking necessary precautions for autumn through the highest-possible adult vaccine coverage unites us, because it’s the only way to prevent the healthcare system from being overburdened,” a statement released by the pro-vaccine MPs reads. 

“In the name of this goal, we conducted consultations and have jointly decided to combine our two draft bills.” 

Majority still uncertain

Though the milder version of the mandate is designed to attract great cross-bench support, it is still unclear if the opposition CDU/CSU parties will be willing to throw their weight behind it.

Nevertheless, conservative MPs who had previously argued that an over-18s mandate was “disproportionate” will now be under greater pressure to explain why the current bill is unacceptable.

“We are counting on the CDU/CSU to support this proposal,” the statement reads. “Our proposal envisages the exact same age limit as the conservatives’ motion and also takes up their proposals for a general vaccine register.” 

READ ALSO:

Around 280 MPs have already voiced support for the new compromise bill, but they will need at least 90 further votes to achieve a majority.

However, it is conceivable that undecided conservatives may decide at the last minute to join the push for compulsory vaccination, especially since the party has recently come under pressure from its factions in the federal state parliaments.

When the vote on a vaccine mandate was first announced, Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) declared that MPs would be permitted to vote with their conscience rather than along party lines.

This could increase the chance of opposition MPs agreeing to support the vaccine mandate when it is put to the house on Thursday. 

Member comments

  1. So the mandates for over 18’s and all over 50’s proposals have compromised and now its all over 60’s. No matter who you are or what you agree with, that makes little, to no sense. But the whole thing is irrelevant anyways because they have managed to squeeze that tiny bit in at the end that allows forced vaccination of all over 18’s. So come September everyone will need the poke. And still all the papers being delivered from pfizer are being ignored.

    There’s something not right going on here.

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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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