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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.

People queue for a Covid vaccination in Stuttgart in winter.
People queue for a Covid vaccination in Stuttgart in winter. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Bernd Weißbrod

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.

READ ALSO: Germany’s planned changes to Covid vaccination status 

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. 

READ ALSO: German doctors call for ’empty’ vaccination centres to close

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Omicron vaccines to arrive in Germany in September, says Health Minister

German Health Minister Karl Lauterbach says vaccines adapted to target the Covid variant Omicron could arrive in Germany in September.

Omicron vaccines to arrive in Germany in September, says Health Minister

During a press conference on Friday, Lauterbach said that the European Medicines Agency (EMA) would approve the adapted vaccine for the BA1 subvariant of Omicron as early as September 1st. That means the vaccine could be delivered to Germany in early September.

Later in the month, European authorities will deal with the vaccine for the BA5 subvariant, which could then be delivered to Germany at the end of September. 

This means that the vaccines should be available just in time for the new Infection Protection Act, which is scheduled to come into force in Germany on October 1st.

Lauterbach said the government’s vaccination campaign for the Omicron booster shots is being prepared and will start “promptly”.

“The federal government has procured both vaccines in sufficient quantities,” he said. “We will therefore be supplied relatively early.”

The initial aim will be for risk groups to get the jab, if they haven’t had one recently. Health officials in Germany have been pushing for risk groups, such as older people, to get a fourth vaccination as soon as possible, rather than wait for the adapted vaccines.

READ ALSO: Reader question – Can I get a second booster jab in Germany?

Lauterbach recently told German media that others in Germany – such as those who have “a lot of contacts” should consider getting a second booster shot in some cases. That could apply to people who work in bars, for instance. Lauterbach recommended that these people talk to their family doctor. 

The general rule is that doctors do not have to vaccinate someone against Covid-19 if there is no official recommendation to do so. However, anyone can get the jab – free of charge – if they discuss it and agree with their doctor. 

The Local has asked for extra clarification from the Health Ministry on who should get an adapted vaccine when they arrive. 

Debate over mask rules for autumn

The Health Minister also talked about the planned new Covid protection laws and defended the proposals. They are set to be voted on and will come into force from October 1st.

Under the plans masks will remain mandatory in air and long-distance transport, as well as clinics, nationwide. But federal states will be able to choose themselves whether to keep measures like mandatory masks on public and regional transport in place.

READ ALSO Masks and no lockdowns: Germany’s new Covid plan from autumn to Easter

States will also have the choice to introduce compulsory masks in venues such as restaurants and bars – but there will be exemptions to wearing a mask for people who have recently been vaccinated (those jabbed in the previous three months), recovered or tested against Covid. 

Lauterbach said he believed that all states would introduce these extra restrictions because numbers would rise in autumn. 

Earlier this week some politicians said the exception to the mask rule did not make sense.

But Lauterbach said it would be safer if there were more freshly-vaccinated, recovered or tested people sitting in a restaurant than simply issuing a general mask requirement – because masks are removed when sitting down. 

The Health Minister also said that he didn’t think this would mean people would try to get vaccinated regularly just so they didn’t have to wear a mask. 

“It is not the case that vaccinations are given every three months,” Lauterbach said. He said the period of time for this exception could also change in future depending on research. 

Lauterbach said there are plans for the digital proof of vaccination or recovery on the Corona Warn app to be colour-coded to make it easier for venue bosses to check proof quickly. 

The Health Minister also said public facilities in Germany had managed to check 3G measures in the past. In previous Covid waves, people had to show proof of vaccination, recovery or a test to enter a venue, which is known as the 3G rules.

Commenting on the current situation, Lauterbach said there was a “favourable development” as Germany appears to be getting over the summer Covid wave. 

“The summer wave is now slowly starting to recede,” the SPD politician said. 

READ ALSO: Germany has passed peak of Covid summer wave, says RKI 

The number of Covid deaths are also going down, but is not yet “where we would like it to be”, Lauterbach said. And he warned that when there are more indoor contacts due to the cooler weather in autumn, as well as schools going back, the situation could change again.