German health minister wants to step up booster injections
German Health Minister on Wednesday called for stepped-up booster vaccinations and more frequent checks of vaccination or testing status of people as new COVID-19 infections increase.
Senior health officials have also issued a new appeal to German residents who have not yet been vaccinated to get the vaccine, although Health Minister Jens Spahn has acknowledged that many refractories cannot be convinced. They said the pressure on hospital beds is increasing, especially in areas where vaccination rates are relatively low.
Spahn said that although officials agreed in August to make booster shots available to people over 60 and nursing home residents and staff, only just over 2 million have been administered until now.
“It’s far too little – the pace of the boosters is not enough,” he added.
There are tensions between the minister and doctors’ organizations on the issue. Germany’s independent standing committee on immunization – whose recommendations are followed by many doctors – is currently recommending boosters for those over 70 and a few other groups, but the health ministry says anyone who wants one is entitled to one. has a.
“If every country waited for data before doing anything, we wouldn’t have any data,” Spahn said, noting that the boosters were cleared by European authorities and that adolescent vaccinations also started long before a committee recommendation. He said those most at risk should be given priority, but as for the others, “the vaccine is there, the clearance is there and the findings from other countries are there.”
Official figures show that around two-thirds of Germany’s population of 83 million have completed their first round of vaccination. The head of the country’s Center for Disease Control, Lothar Wieler, said 16.2 million people aged 12 or older remain unvaccinated, including 3.2 million over 60.
Germany has not made vaccination against the coronavirus compulsory for any occupational group, unlike some of its European counterparts. But regional governments have limited access to certain indoor events and facilities to people who have been vaccinated, recently recovered or have been tested, and some are tightening those rules.
Controls are often lax at best.
“If my vaccination certificate is checked more often in a day in Rome than it is sometimes in four weeks in Germany, then I think more can be done,” said Spahn. He also called for mandatory testing across Germany of nursing home staff and visitors, including those who have been vaccinated.
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