German doctors call for 'empty' Covid vaccine centres to close

DPA/The Local
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German doctors call for 'empty' Covid vaccine centres to close
A person receives a Covid-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre in Braunschweig. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Moritz Frankenberg

The German GP Association says Covid-19 vaccination centres should be closed over summer because they're not being used.


"The vaccination centres are empty all over Germany," association president Ulrich Weigeldt told the Redaktionsnetzwerk Deutschland (RND) on Thursday. 

"Why they should continue to operate for the entire summer is completely incomprehensible."

Weigeldt said that rather than keeping centres open, Covid jabs could still be given within GP surgeries and through mobile vaccination teams who visit communities.


Nearly 76 percent of the German population has had two jabs, and 59.8 percent have received their booster shot. About 5.2 million people in Germany have received a second booster jab so far – 6.3 percent of the population. Vulnerable groups such as the elderly have been urged to get a second booster shot. 

It comes as Covid infections in Germany spiral upwards, leading Health Minister Karl Lauterbach to declare a new wave. 

READ ALSO: Summer Covid wave has arrived in Germany, warns Health Minister

On Thursday, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) again reported rising numbers: there were 89,142 new infections within the latest 24 hour period, and 73 deaths. The nationwide 7-day incidence rose to 480.0 infections per 100,000 people. A week ago the incidence was 276.9.

However, experts believe there are far more infections because many go unreported. 

The new wave is being fuelled by the spread of subtypes of the Omicron variant, particularly BA.5, which is more transmissible but does not generally cause severe illness. 

Immunologist Carsten Watzl said he expected a weaker Covid wave than in winter.

"We currently have two developments that are working against each other. On the one hand, a seasonal effect that suppresses the numbers, and on the other hand, with Omicron, unlike in past summers, a variant that is significantly more contagious," Watzl told Funke-Zeitung.

A summer wave was to be expected, he said. "But I don't think BA.5 will completely cancel out the seasonal effect," he said. "We will probably have to deal with incidences in the range of 500, 600, 700. I don't think we will reach (a 7-day incidence of) 2,000, as we did last winter."


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