How many people have been vaccinated against COVID-19 in Germany?
Update: We updated the coronavirus vaccination figures on January 20.
After taking delivery of the first doses of the BioNTech / Pfizer vaccine against COVID-19, Germany has been immunising people since the weekend. But how many people have already been vaccinated? And what does this mean for the weeks ahead?
Germany’s COVID-19 vaccination rollout continues
A 101-year-old resident of Halberstadt in Saxony-Anhalt was the first out of the stocks, and since then thousands more immunisations have followed: Germany’s coronavirus vaccination campaign - the largest of all time - has begun.
According to experts, around 60 to 70 percent of the population needs to be vaccinated against the Sars-CoV-2 pathogen in order to achieve so-called herd immunity, and thus prevent the further spread of the virus. With Germany’s population of around 83 million, this corresponds to roughly 50 to 60 million people - and each person needs two injections, around three weeks apart, to achieve maximum immunity.
Clearly, a great mountain has to be climbed - but vaccinations have been proceeding apace since the weekend. According to the Robert Koch Institute, 41.962 people had been vaccinated against COVID-19, as of December 28, 2020. The map below shows the breakdown of vaccinations per federal state:
Special rights for people with coronavirus vaccinations?
So long as voluntary uptake of the vaccine remains high enough for herd immunity to be achieved, coronavirus vaccines will not be made mandatory in Germany. A debate is therefore steadily brewing about how vaccinated and unvaccinated people might be treated in future.
The federal government is reportedly concerned that people who are not vaccinated against COVID-19 may suffer disadvantages - for instance at events, in restaurants, or on airlines. For instance, the Australian airline Qantas has already announced that it will only take vaccinated passengers on certain routes, while the German Foundation for Patient Protection is warning of a similar situation arising within the healthcare system, since care providers are legally entitled to reject patients for treatment.
Concerned that such preferential treatment could lead to “divisions in society”, the federal government therefore is looking to take action. According to SPD spokesperson Johannes Fechner, the grand coalition is currently examining legal measures to decide “how unequal treatment of unvaccinated and vaccinated people in the private sector can be ruled out.”
Lockdown likely to be extended beyond January 10
But such situations seem a long way off while Germany’s vaccination numbers remain so low. Indeed, the Mayor of Berlin, Michael Müller, stressed on Tuesday that it will take quite some time before a sufficiently large proportion of the population is vaccinated against the virus - and that a comprehensive easing of restrictions cannot therefore be expected immediately.
“I firmly assume that we will have to continue to live with restrictions,” he said. The current lockdown is now in place until January 10, but it seems likely that it will be extended once again when the federal states meet with Angela Merkel on January 5. Müller emphasised that the more people who were vaccinated, the more it meant relief for everyone.