Doctors in Germany report threats and aggression from vaccine opponents
With Germany’s coronavirus case rate reaching new heights and the government considering drastic new restrictions, tensions are starting to boil over. Doctors in Germany and their staff are reporting a rising number of threats from vaccine opponents, and incidents of aggression and abuse in their surgeries.
Rising tensions reported by doctors in Germany
As pandemic fatigue sets in across the country, many doctors in Germany are bearing the brunt of people’s frustrations. A number of doctors’ organisations told DW this week that they are experiencing an aggressive atmosphere of frayed nerves. Alongside verbal abuse and intimidation, a rising number of clinicians report receiving threats via email, telephone, and in the post.
“The aggression and extremism among people has become significantly worse,” said Erik Bodendieck, chairperson of the Saxony Medical Association, when contacted by DW. “Some doctors have even received death threats… There are emails where I get attacked personally, where I get threatened with legal action. And there are letters where it says things like: “You belong in front of a firing squad.” That kind of thing.”
Ulrike Schramm-Häder, a spokesperson for the Medical Association of Thuringia, said, “The letters mainly say that the vaccinations are dangerous and accuse the doctors of carrying out human experiments.” She said that she was aware of 25 cases of doctors receiving threats in her federal state, adding that the perpetrators do quite a bit of research, seeking out the doctors’ names and addresses to write to them at home.
Doctors facing abuse and aggression in clinics
According to Schramm-Häder, doctors not only deal with anonymous threats in the mail, but also increasingly face aggressive and angry patients at work. “Sometimes patients react very aggressively to normal questions, such as about their vaccination status. That’s just something doctors need to know,” she said.
Medical Associations in Berlin and Lower Saxony told DW that they have noticed a “harsher tone” from patients, with a spokesperson from the Berlin Medical Association saying, “Nerves are frayed on both sides.”
Back in October, one clinic in Berlin received a series of threats that were deemed so serious that it was forced to close down for several days and hire private security. The identity of the clinic has since been kept secret to try to prevent further escalation. FAZ reports that some doctors have already been forced to bring in the police to provide protection.
Last week, the National Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians called for threats to doctors that administer vaccines to be made a criminal offence in future. “Anyone who threatens doctors and psychotherapists and their teams should be punished,” said vice-chairperson Stephan Hofmeister.