Berlin (dpa) – Children and young people should be able to get corona vaccinations more easily nationwide to go to school after the holidays.
Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn defended plans by the federal and state governments to broaden the scope of vaccinations for 12 to 17-year-olds in vaccination centers, as is already possible in medical practices. It’s about a more widely available offer because there’s enough vaccine to protect yourself, the CDU politician said on rbb information radio. “Who wants, can get vaccinated – nobody has to.” However, the plans continue to face sharp criticism.
Protests from medical representatives
Several doctors’ representatives protested the decisions, without the Permanent Immunization Commission (Stiko) recommending vaccinations for children in general. The president of the general practitioners’ association, Ulrich Weigeldt, warned against uncertainty. “It’s a mystery to me why I can’t wait for a recommendation from Stiko who wants to express itself promptly on the basis of well-substantiated studies,” he tells the editors in Germany.
The president of the World Medical Association, Frank-Ulrich Montgomery, told RTL/ntv: “What politicians are doing now is campaign noise.” An independent, excellently functioning committee ran into problems.
For now, Stiko recommends vaccinations for children only when there is a higher risk of serious coronavirus disease, for example from diseases such as diabetes – according to Stiko, vaccinations are possible with medical advice and as an individual decision of children and parents. The vaccines from Biontech and Moderna are approved for children 12 years and older.
Spahn defended the planned additional vaccination options. “It’s emphatically not about exerting pressure, we don’t do that either.” If parents and kids said they wanted to wait for more data, that was okay and no problem. He opposed constructing a contradiction – the decision of the federal and state governments was “fully consistent with the Stiko”. More than 900,000 children between the ages of 12 and 17 have already been vaccinated at least once, which is equivalent to about 20 percent in the age group.
Spahn said he could only wish as many families as possible would consider this now. In view of the more contagious strain of the Delta virus, the general rule is, “Either you get infected without vaccination protection, or you have vaccination protection.”
The chairman of the Saxon Vaccination Commission, Thomas Grünewald, advocated a corona vaccination for children aged 12 and older. “The individual benefit to a child is significantly greater than the harm or problems a vaccination can cause,” he told the Leipziger Volkszeitung. The basis is new data from countries such as the US or Israel, where vaccination has been going on for a long time from the age of 12.
This is what it looks like in the federal states
Several states are preparing more vaccination offers for children, some of which are already underway. In North Rhine-Westphalia, there have been offers for children from 12 years old in practices and vaccination centers for about two weeks, Health Minister Karl-Josef Laumann (CDU) said in the WDR. There is a “strict requirement” for individual advice beforehand. The vaccination centers offer times for parents with children.
Berlin also relies mainly on vaccination centers and local doctors. Vaccinations directly in schools are “relatively difficult to organize,” said Health Minister Martin Matz. For young people under the age of 16, a parent must be present at the medical consultation.
In Hesse, 12 to 17-year-olds can already be vaccinated in some vaccination centers. “That should soon be possible for everyone,” said the state government. A medical consultation and guidance or in any case the permission of the guardian are necessary. Pediatricians, young people and general practitioners also offer vaccinations. In Thuringia there were already so-called family vaccination days in vaccination centers. “We want to repeat that,” said a spokeswoman for the ministry.
In Lower Saxony, since mid-July, 36 of the 50 vaccination centers have vaccinated children aged 12 and older with parental consent and medical advice. According to the Ministry of Health, 28 percent of all 12- to 17-year-olds have already been vaccinated at least once.
FDP leader Christian Lindner told the “Südkurier” that he thought a “low-threshold, quickly accessible vaccination offer for children and adolescents” was correct. “But it has to be an offer.” SPD party chairman Bärbel Bas told the dpa: “The vaccination protects young people from disease and is an important part of enabling them to return to normal.”
The director of the German Association of Cities, Helmut Dedy, told the Funke media group newspapers that the cities were ready to vaccinate children as young as 12 years old. Both vaccination centers and mobile teams could do that.
Booster vaccinations from September
The German Foundation for Patient Protection, meanwhile, welcomed the booster vaccinations for high-risk groups, which are scheduled for September. “Especially among the 900,000 nursing home residents, the second vaccination was already six months ago,” says Eugen Brysch board member of the Public Prosecution Service. It is good to get vaccinations there again, but there is no binding schedule yet.
Unlike at the beginning of the year, the mobile vaccination teams must not forget the nearly 200,000 people in assisted living from the start.