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.”
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.
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.