Reader question: Can I get a second Covid booster jab in Germany?
The number of Covid infections in Germany is rising. Some people are wondering if they can - or should - get a second booster jab if their previous vaccination was several months ago.
In February this year, Germany's Standing Committee on Vaccination (STIKO) recommended that risk groups get a fourth Covid vaccination - or second booster shot.
However, because most people got their booster vaccination several months ago, many are wondering if they should get another jab, especially as there's a fresh resurgence of Covid infections.
Here's a look at what we know so far, and the official recommendations.
Who is officially eligible for a second vaccine booster in Germany?
STIKO currently recommends the fourth Covid-19 vaccination for people aged 70 and over, residents in care homes or similar facilities, staff in medical facilities and care institutions, and people with immune deficiencies.
The government has been pushing for vulnerable groups to get their second jab, especially as Covid cases rise.
Health Minister Karl Lauterbach recently urged all at-risk groups and people over the age of 60 to get a second booster jab.
The Local asked the Health Ministry if other groups of people should get the vaccine now. They told us that there was only an official recommendation for risk groups, and that a possible announcement on further jabs for the general population would only come after summer.
"Since it is not yet possible to foresee which variants will be predominant in autumn, the STIKO considers a renewed statement on a possible general second booster vaccination would only make sense after the summer of 2022," said the Health Ministry spokesman.
However, Lauterbach also recommended in June that everyone get a fourth Covid vaccination if they want it.
"By voluntarily wearing a mask indoors and getting a fourth vaccination, you can make your own summer a lot better," he told broadcaster ZDF.
Lauterbach said he was offering this advice because of the emergence of the newer Omicron variants BA.4 and BA.5. "Unfortunately, you can get infected with BA.4 and BA.5, even if you were already infected with BA.1 and BA.2," he said.
How can I get the jab if I want it?
Anecdotally, we've heard that some vaccination points are offering a second booster shot to people who want it - even if they don't fall into one of the risk groups. People in Germany can generally be given a jab if the last injection was more than three months ago.
We recommend that you talk with your healthcare provider if you are unsure about what to do. Several doctors practices are also offering the Covid-19 jab and will be able to advise patients.
Isn't there going to be an Omicron-specific vaccine?
Lauterbach has said that he expects vaccines adapted to the Omicron variant to become available in Germany in September.
However, on June 30th he urged people - especially risk groups - to get a second booster shot as soon as possible rather than waiting.
He said: "In nursing homes, 70 percent of residents lack a fourth vaccination. It should be done now. It takes too long to wait for adapted vaccines. Current vaccines are very safe and reliably reduce mortality in facilities. Hesitation can be fatal."
As of July 5th, at least 63.4 million people (76.2 percent of the total population) in Germany have received two Covid vaccinations, and at least 51.3 million people (61.7 percent) have received one or two booster vaccinations, according to official figures.