Berlin / Munich (dpa) – To protect against corona when starting school after the summer holidays, children and young people across the country are getting additional vaccination options.
All countries now want to offer vaccinations for 12 to 17 year olds in the regional vaccination centers, as is already possible in medical practice. The health ministers decided unanimously on Monday.
Federal Minister Jens Spahn (CDU) said: “Anyone who wants can get vaccinated in the summer. We have enough vaccine for all age groups.” From September, risk groups such as the elderly and people in need of care should also be able to get their first booster vaccinations.
The chairman of the state health ministers, Klaus Holetschek (CSU), from Bavaria, called the offers for young people a “building block for a safer start to teaching and learning after the summer holidays”. Vaccination centers, doctors and occupational physicians with offers for relatives would be available. There will also be uncomplicated offers for young adults at universities and vocational schools.
As emphasized in the resolution, vaccination of children and adolescents requires medical information and, if necessary, a yes from the guardian. The offers must be designed in such a way that the “voluntary nature of acceptance” is not called into question. The actual implementation on the spot is now up to the federal states.
Access for children
The European Medicines Agency (EMA) had already approved Biontech’s 12-year-old vaccine in May and for Moderna a few days ago. In Germany, the Permanent Vaccination Commission (Stiko) generally does not recommend vaccinations for children, despite political pressure, but only if there is a higher risk of more serious corona cures, for example from diseases such as diabetes – but they are possible with medical advice.
Such an offer for the individual decision of parents and children is in line with Stiko’s recommendations, Spahn said. According to the ministry, 900,000 children between the ages of 12 and 17 have already been vaccinated.
The Stiko debate
The role of Stiko remains controversial. SPD health expert Karl Lauterbach said on Deutschlandfunk that she represented an “outsider position” on this matter. The key studies found that an “infection” with the delta variant of the coronavirus was more dangerous than a vaccination. AfD faction leader Alice Weidel said ministers should not just ignore Stiko’s recommendations. Adolescents with no previous health problems do not need vaccination.
Stiko boss Thomas Mertens confirmed in the NDR that there is still too little data about possible consequential damage. The advice may be changed. “But certainly not because politicians have spoken out.”
The start of school
School started again on Monday in Schleswig-Holstein and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania – with specifications for indoor masks and regular tests, Hamburg will follow on Thursday. Green party chair Katrin Göring-Eckardt called for a “protective cocoon”: “What is still possible must now be implemented as soon as possible,” she told the Funke media group newspapers with a view to ventilation concepts, testing strategies and air filters. Vaccinations also require unconventional methods: “For example, through vaccination teams in schools and schoolyards, for everyone who wants it.”
The fresh dose
Experts expect that a protective booster should first be introduced in people whose immune systems do not respond well to a vaccination – for example because of age or illness. And for such high-risk groups, vaccinations are running the longest since the beginning of the year. That’s why you’ll need to get another shot from September, “usually at least six months after completing the first round of vaccinations”: through mobile teams in healthcare facilities and the doctors who treat the elderly and those in need of care at home.
The funds from Biontech and Moderna must be used. A refresher offer should also be made to people who have already been fully vaccinated with Astrazeneca or Johnson & Johnson products.
The further protection
Booster vaccines that should better cover new virus variants such as Delta are in the works. Vaccination expert Charité Leif Sander recently stated that “very good protection” and probably a significantly increased immune response can also be expected with the available vaccines after refreshment.
According to experts, first of all, the antibody protection on the mucous membranes decreases, so that vaccinated people could contribute more to the spread of the virus over time. Protection against serious diseases, especially in healthy people, is considered long-lasting.
The vaccination rate
The first vaccinations are losing speed. According to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), 51.3 million people or 61.7 percent of the population have now received at least one dose. “However, the number of first vaccinations is as low as in February,” Spahn wrote on Twitter, asking people to get vaccinated.