Berlin (dpa) – With a view to the start of school after the holidays, there must be more corona vaccination options for children and young people.
Federal Health Secretary Jens Spahn defended plans by the federal and state governments to provide vaccinations for 12 to 17-year-olds in vaccination centers across the country, as is already possible in medical practices. It is about a more widely available offer because there is enough vaccine to protect yourself, the CDU politician said on rbb information radio on Tuesday. “Who wants, can get vaccinated – nobody has to.” However, the plans continue to face sharp criticism.
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 quickly on the basis of well-substantiated studies,” he told the editorial board in Germany on Tuesday. 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 considerably greater than the harm or the problems that a vaccination can cause,” he told the Leipziger Volkszeitung (Tuesday). 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.
According to their own statements, several states are preparing 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, said Health Minister Karl-Josef Laumann (CDU) in the WDR on Tuesday. There is the “strict requirement” that individual counseling must be given prior to vaccinations. The vaccination centers would provide certain times for parents to come with children and pediatricians would carry out the vaccinations.
In the future, Hessen wants to offer vaccinations for 12 to 17 year olds in all vaccination centers. In some cases, children and young people of this age group can already be vaccinated for free. “That should soon be possible for everyone,” said the state government. A special medical consultation and guidance or in any case the consent of the custodian is necessary. Pediatricians, young people and general practitioners already 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.
SPD party leader Bärbel Bas supported the ministers’ decision. She told the German news agency: “The vaccination protects young people from illness 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 (Tuesday) that the cities were ready to vaccinate children and adolescents as young as 12 years old. Both vaccination centers and mobile teams could do that.
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.