Ulrich Weigeldt, head of the German Family Physicians’ Association, called for younger people to be vaccinated sooner due to both practical and ethical reasons.
“Young people have a high risk of transmitting the virus and thus infecting other people…because of their many contacts,” Weigeldt told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ).
“They are also the ones who suffered significantly during the lockdown due to school closures and strict contact restrictions.”
Children and young people were expected to “accept these restrictions, not for their own protection, but solely for the protection of others. We owe it to the young people to enable them to return to normal life.”
The chairwoman of the European Ethics Council, Christiane Woopen, expressed similar views in the FAZ podcast. Young people had set aside a year to protect older generations. The latter should now “stay a little longer in ‘home office’, so that younger people can get back to their lives,” she said.
For young people, the lockdown period feels immeasurably longer. Schools and universities must be reopened to young people as “spaces for development,” she said.
Currently under Germany’s ‘Notbremse’ (emergency brake) legislation, Kitas, schools and high educational institutions are slated to close in regions with a 7-day incidence of more than 165 infections per 100,000 in the population.
Growing infections among younger people
According to data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) on Tuesday, infections among children and young people have increased over the past seven days.
Among 10- to 14-year-olds, the 7-day incidence of infected people per 100,000 rose from just over 200 to 230 compared to the previous Tuesday, and among 5-to 9-year-olds from just under 190 to 220.
Bavarian Prime Minister Markus Söder (CSU) also spoke out over the weekend in favour of vaccinating schoolchildren from the age of 16, while at the same time calling for the prioritisation to be lifted, meaning that anyone who wants a vaccine would be able to register for one.
Various ethicists warned on Tuesday of a “greyhound race” for available vaccines if prioritisation is lifted in June, as Health Minister Jens Spahn (CDU) proposed last week.
Young people, who often do not have a family doctor according to the association, could lose out.
The BioNtech/Pfizer vaccine is currently licensed for ages 16 and older. A clinical trial in the United States recently concluded that the shot, co-developed between Germany and the US, achieved nearly 100 percent efficacy in children and adolescents.
significantly/considerably – erheblich
Transmission – (die) Übertragung
spaces for development – (die) Entfaltungsräume
authorised/approved – zugelassen
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