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Germany opens up vaccine centres to teenagers, without STIKO recommendation

Germany opens up vaccine centres to teenagers, without STIKO recommendation

Germany opens up vaccine centres to teenagers, without STIKO recommendation

Germany has pressed ahead to start offering COVID vaccines to teenagers at vaccination centres as well as GP surgeries, despite the fact that the country’s top advisory body has not yet issued a general recommendation.

Teenagers in Germany can get COVID jabs at vaccine centres

On Monday evening, the health ministers for Germany’s 16 federal states agreed with the Federal Health Ministry to start offering vaccinations against COVID-19 to teenagers at the country’s vaccination centres. Young people aged between 12 and 17 will be able to get a jab after a consultation with a doctor and, where necessary, with the consent of a parent or guardian. 

“We are keeping our promise: Anyone who wants to can be vaccinated this summer. We have enough vaccine doses for all age groups,” said Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn. 

Previously, people in this age bracket were able to get COVID jabs, but only at their local GP practice. The change means that teenagers can now book appointments at one of the numerous mass vaccination centres scattered across the country. So far, around 900.000 teenagers in Germany have already received at least one jab. 

Ministers in Germany decided to extend the offer to teenagers in order to boost vaccine uptake amid a slowing immunisation campaign. With willingness to get vaccinated declining amongst adults in the federal republic, Germany is counting on boosting the vaccination rate amongst teenagers to achieve its immunisation quota. 

STIKO sticking firm to previous recommendation

However, the change in direction has attracted some controversy, particularly because Germany’s vaccine commission, STIKO, has so far declined to issue a general vaccination recommendation for teenagers. Instead, it has recommended the jab only for those who have pre-existing conditions that put them at risk of contracting a severe bout of COVID. 

“We cannot issue a blanket recommendation as long as we are lacking the necessary data,” the head of STIKO, Thomas Mertens, recently stated. He said that, once more information becomes available, the commission might change its position, but not because politicians ask it to. 

Mertens emphasised that it was more important for as many 18 to 59-year-olds as possible to get vaccination, to reduce the severity of a potential fourth wave of coronavirus. “Vaccinating children may garner more media attention, but will prove less effective from an epidemiological perspective,” he said. 

Thomas Fischbach, the head of the National Association of Paediatricians, has on the other hand called for STIKO to revise its guidelines and expressly recommend that teenagers get vaccinated. “The risk of side effects from vaccination is extremely low, as shown by all data from other countries,” he said. 

Abi

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Abi Carter

Abi studied History & German at the University of Manchester. She has since worked as a writer, editor and content marketeer, but still has a soft spot for museums, castles...

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