German Health Minister to target undecided in new Covid jab campaign

Following the failure of the vaccine mandate, medical experts in Germany fear an escalation of the pandemic in the autumn.

German Health Minister to target undecided in new Covid jab campaign
Karl Lauterbach (SPD), Federal Minister of Health, comments on the changes to the isolation and quarantine rules during a press conference at the Federal Ministry of Health. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Bernd von Jutrczenka

After his proposed vaccination mandate faced a crushing defeat in the German parliament on Thursday, Federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach is now calling for a strengthened vaccination campaign to target those who have not yet had the jab – including migrants and other underrepresented groups.

READ ALSO: German parliament rejects over-60s vaccine mandate

As of Friday morning, 76.0 percent of the total population of Germany had been vaccinated and 58.9 percent had been given a third “booster” jab. 

“Once again, we need to target a really effective vaccination campaign at those who have not yet been vaccinated but are willing in principle,” Lauterbach said. He added that one such group was Germany’s immigrant population, which remains underrepresented in vaccination coverage. 

“They have to be reached; we can’t give up,” Lauterbach said. “We also have to advertise more creatively. We’re preparing something there right now.”

The SPD politician told Deutschlandfunk radio on Thursday that he expects the pandemic to worsen in the autumn and is calling for an amendment to the Infection Protection Act by then.

Following the failure of the vaccine mandate, other medical experts have also raised their concerns about a worsening of the pandemic again in the autumn – even to the point of new lockdowns.

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

“The fact is that we have to expect rising infection figures again in the autumn,” Gerald Gaß, CEO of the German Hospital Association (DKG), told the Augsburger Allgemeine newspaper. “Politicians must prepare for this today in order to avoid overloading the healthcare system.”

Karl Lauterbach also said he no longer sees the possibility for further relaxations of Covid measures.

Currently, the vast majority of Covid measures have been dispensed with in Germany, though people are still expected to wear masks on public transport and in hospitals and care homes. 

READ ALSO: KEY POINTS: The Covid rules you still need to know in Germany

“We have now made the relaxations that can be made, but there we have reached the end of the line,” he said. “If we had gotten the vaccination requirement right, the scope for relaxations in the autumn would have been much greater. Now the way I see it is that in the autumn, the Infection Protection Act will probably have to be adjusted again at an early stage.”

The Federal Health Minister plans to discuss the current infection situation and developments in the Covid pandemic in a joint press conference with RKI chief Lothar Wieler on Friday.

Member comments

  1. Karl Lauterbach also said he no longer sees the possibility for further relaxations of Covid measures.<- is somebody throwing his Toys out the pram?

    The Federal Health Minister plans to discuss the current infection situation and developments in the Covid pandemic in a joint press conference with RKI chief Lothar Wieler <- sounds like the numbers are about to drastically go up.

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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?