Germany gears up to offer COVID booster shots this autumn
The German government is finalising plans to offer COVID booster shots to at-risk population groups from this autumn. Officials also want to start promoting coronavirus vaccinations to 12 to 17-year-olds.
Booster shots from September 1 in Germany
Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn and health ministers from Germany’s 16 federal states are meeting on Monday to finalise a plan to offer booster shots to the elderly and at-risk from the beginning of September, according to a draft document seen by AFP at the weekend.
The plan foresees the deployment of mobile vaccination teams to nursing and care homes to offer residents a third “booster shot” of either the Pfizer / BioNTech or Moderna vaccines against COVID-19. Those who received AstraZeneca or Johnson & Johnson the first time around will receive a different vaccine, the document specifies.
Doctors will also work alongside mobile vaccination teams to administer jabs to those who are eligible, including elderly people and those with preexisting conditions that make them vulnerable to coronavirus.
Although the vaccination rate among these at-risk population groups is high in Germany, some studies have recently suggested that vaccination protection might decline with time, making a booster shot necessary. The spread of the highly contagious Delta variant is also fuelling concern.
Jabs for all 12 to 17-year-olds in Germany
At the same time, the plan also recommends boosting the vaccination rate by opening up all vaccination centres to 12 to 17-year-olds. To lower barriers, jabs would also be offered in schools and universities. This could “contribute significantly to a safer start to teaching and learning after the summer holidays,” the draft reads.
Earlier this year, Germany’s STIKO vaccine commission decided against issuing a general recommendation for adolescents in this age group to get vaccinated, instead promoting it for teenagers with pre-existing conditions.
Although the government went against this advice to allow 12 to 17-year-olds to get vaccinated, in consultation with their parents and a doctor, the cautious STIKO guidance seems to have dampened take-up, despite the fact that the European Medicines Agency approved both the Pfizer / BioNTech and Moderna shots for all over-12s.
Spahn tweeted over the weekend that so far one in five 12 to 17-year-olds in Germany has received at least one coronavirus shot so far, but he urged more to come forward: “There’s enough vaccine for all age groups: anyone who wants to, can get vaccinated.”