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Fearing fourth wave, Germany ramps up vaccination campaign

Fearing fourth wave, Germany ramps up vaccination campaign

dpa
Berlin
German politicians and associations are promoting vaccinations against Covid-19 with increased energy, as the new school year draws closer and as interest wanes in the jab.
Lawmakers are also looking ahead to charging for Covid-19 tests, which are currently available free of charge.
Social Democrat (SPD) chancellor candidate Olaf Scholz said people who had already been vaccinated should do more to encourage others to follow suit. “We have to convince our friends to get vaccinated. This is a matter that touches every one of us,” said Scholz, who is also finance minister, in comments to the Funke-Mediengruppe.
Meanwhile SPD leader Saskia Esken and the German Association of Cities called for vaccination campaigns at schools once the new academic year begins.
The dates of school summer holidays differ from one state to the next but in-person teaching begins in the first states next week.
Esken said she supported mobile vaccination teams at schools, in comments to Redaktionsnetzwerk Deutschland (RND).
There are already some plans in place, with school pupils age 12 and above able to be vaccinated at schools by mobile teams in the state of Schleswig-Holstein.
Officials are assessing the situation in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern and plan to send mobile vaccination teams to inoculate 16- and 17-year-olds.
Hamburg plans mobile vaccination services for vocational school students.
So far, a good 51 percent of the German public is fully vaccinated, but scientists say this is not enough to prevent a fourth wave of cases, especially given the more transmissible Delta variant.
Health Minister Jens Spahn tweeted on Saturday that one in five young people in Germany between the ages of 12 and 17 has now received their first vaccination against Covid-19, or some 900,000 people.
But the pace of vaccination is slowing, with some half a million doses generally administered on any given day, down from 1.5 million in May and June.
Case numbers in Germany are also rising, although the seven day incidence rate of cases per 100,000 people over a week is low at 15.
Left Party politicians called for other actors to join the campaign, such as trade unions, sports associations, religious communities, clubs and cultural institutions, in a paper seen by RND.
The Central Council of Muslims in Germany also called on the faithful to be vaccinated, saying there were no religious reasons to avoid the jab. “On the contrary, the protection of others against diseases and one’s own health integrity are highly valued in Islam,” Central Council chairman Aiman Mazyek told RND.
Once all residents in Germany have been offered a vaccination, the government plans to charge people for coronavirus tests, ending the period they have been available free of charge.
“Health Minister Jens Spahn said weeks ago that he considers it conceivable that the tests will no longer be offered free of charge to the unvaccinated at a later date. The exact date has yet to be determined,” the Health Ministry said on Saturday in response to a query.
No agreement has yet been reached, according to government circles.
The Bild newspaper reported that the government had agreed in principle that tests would no longer be free once all Germans have had the opportunity to receive both jabs, which would be at the end of September or the beginning of October.
“Coronavirus tests should be paid for once everyone could have been vaccinated, that is, in a few weeks,” Scholz told the Funke-Mediengruppe.
Exceptions would have to apply to those who cannot be vaccinated for health reasons, as well as to children and adolescents.
Schleswig-Holstein state Premier Daniel Guenther also called on the government to charge for coronavirus tests as soon as possible.

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