Plans for vaccine mandate for all adults scrapped over lack of support
After debating the issue for several months, politicians in Germany have shelved plans to impose a general COVID vaccine mandate for all adults, due to lack of support. Instead, they will now focus on a partial mandate for over-50s.
MPs focus on compromise vaccine mandate for over-50s
Earlier this year, a cross-party group of MPs in Germany put forward proposals for a general vaccine mandate that would require everyone over the age of 18 to get vaccinated against coronavirus. Now, however, recognising that the initiative would struggle to reach a majority in the Bundestag, they have shelved the idea.
Instead, they have revised their proposal to a “compromise” that would require all adults over the age of 50 to get the COVID jab before October 3, while all unvaccinated adults over the age of 18 would be required to attend a session with a doctor to discuss their concerns. The new proposal leaves open the possibility of extending the mandate to cover all adults, pending the Bundestag’s approval, should the pandemic situation significantly worsen.
As such, the plan is very similar to one put forward by a group of MPs around FDP health expert Andrew Ullman during a debate on vaccine mandates in the Bundestag last month. However, Ullman’s proposal would first focus on increasing the vaccination rate via other means, with a mandate for the over-50s considered a last resort.
Omicron has made compulsory COVID vaccinations harder to justify
Since it was first raised last year, the issue of compulsory vaccination has been fiercely debated in Germany. Already controversial to start with, it has become even more so since the Omicron variant of COVID-19 has changed the picture of the pandemic worldwide.
Figures including German Justice Minister Marco Buschmann and the head of Germany’s Standing Vaccination Commission (STIKO), Thomas Mertens, have said that a general mandate would be hard to justify since the currently-available vaccines do not significantly inhibit the spread of the Omicron variant, although they do prevent serious courses of the disease. Buschmann said recently it was “doubtful” that a vaccine mandate would be upheld by the Constitutional Court in the current context.
Mertens said in an interview with the Schwäbische Zeitung, “Protection against the further spread of the virus would be the most important argument for general vaccination from the age of 18. However, since this cannot currently be achieved with a vaccination, in my opinion the main argument for compulsory vaccination is missing. That’s why I think it’s logical to give it up.”