Covid-19: towards compulsory vaccination in Germany

The magnitude of the fourth wave is gradually tilting German opinion, long opposed to this measure.

For great ills, great remedies. To respond to the Germanic phenomenon observed in the two Alpine republics, with complete vaccination rates still below 70% of the adult population, the German government intends to follow the path opened by Austria: mandatory vaccination against the coronavirus.

“In a personal capacity. I am in favor”, slipped the future chancellor Olaf Scholz, like Angela Merkel, always open to opposing opinions. The future chancellor opposes a voting instruction, explained to Bild TV: “Each deputy will have to vote conscientiously. “The Bundestag and the Bundesrat, the federal council of the 16 Länder, are expected to vote on the text by the end of the year. The difficult pronunciation“ Impfpflicht ”, compulsory vaccination, would take effect no later than March.

Thorny questions

The subject has long been taboo, in a country still traumatized by the Nazi and East German dictatorships and their attacks on personal rights. “The memory of the obligation to vaccinate from the GDR era has left its mark on the collective memory”, testifies Professor Hans Vorländer of the Technical University of Dresden.

Germany did not decide until mid-November to make vaccination mandatory for healthcare workers. But the rational and scientific argumentation has vanished before some 14 million German antivaxes and the magnitude of this fourth wave has tilted opinion, now 69% in favor of more coercion, compared to 33% in July according to the barometer of the public channel ZDF. Long opposed to the principle, Lothar Wieler, director of the Robert-Koch Institute for Public Health Surveillance (RKI), embraced the idea: “When we’ve tried everything else, the WHO says we should think about mandatory vaccination.”

But implementation can be difficult. Following the example of Italy or Portugal, Germany on Tuesday appointed a soldier, Major General Carsten Breuer, to lead the crisis unit. It is up to him to carry out his first mission: the vaccination of the third dose, complicated by the government’s decision to set the expiration of the health pass at 6 months.

With the predictable influx of retirees before the holidays, now it’s a matter of calling in the pharmacists and dentists for the injections. Uwe, an orthopedic surgeon, vaccinates overtime at his Berlin practice. “I work every night until 10 at night. I just injected an 80 year old lady who did not have an appointment until February! With the 500 doses we have, we are making our contribution but we are not a vaccination center ”. The set goal is 30 million bites by Christmas, or 1.25 million doses per day, or double today.

As in Austria, will this vaccination obligation extend to children? And shall we compel the recalcitrant by force or by fines? Thorny questions when a survey finds that the number of people who do not believe in the existence of the virus has risen to 28% of those questioned in Saxony, a region devastated by the epidemic. A new meeting between federal and regional officials should detail this mandatory vaccination plan this Thursday.


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