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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.” 

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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

German vaccine commission ‘to recommend fourth Covid jab for over 60s’

Germany's Permanent Vaccination Commission (Stiko) is set to recommend that all people over 60 get a booster jab against the coronavirus, according to a report in Bild newspaper.

German vaccine commission 'to recommend fourth Covid jab for over 60s'

While the report has not yet been officially confirmed, Germany’s health minister, Karl Lauterbach, said on Twitter on Monday: “Thanks to the #Stiko that the recommendation of a 4th vaccination is now coming for the over 60 age group.”

Lauterbach, who has advised that all adults get a fourth jab, added that this was an “important step” in the right direction.

People over 60 should not wait for an adjusted Omicron vaccine, Lauterbach said in his tweet Monday. “The risk is already there. Existing vaccines protect against severe disease.”

The Robert Koch Institute (RKI), Germany’s disease prevention agency, did not immediately comment on the report.

According to Bild, a precondition for getting a fourth jab is that the first booster jab, or the person’s last bout of Covid was at least six months ago.

Up until now, Stiko has only recommended the second booster for people over 70 years of age, people in care facilities, people with immune deficiencies and those with an increased risk of severe Covid 19 symptoms, as well as staff in medical facilities and nursing homes.

The European Medical Agency (EMA) has previously called on member states to offer second booster jabs to people over 60. Lauterbach had also repeatedly brought a second booster for broader population groups into the discussion. 

READ ALSO: Omicron vaccines to arrive in Germany in September, says Health Minister

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