With the end of priority groups, anyone over the age of 12 can now make an appointment to receive a Covid-19 vaccine in Germany.
However, some states are continuing to only offer appointments to priority groups at vaccination centres.
It is expected to take until the end of the summer before there are enough vaccines for the general population.
For this reason, top representatives of Germany’s medical profession and Health Minister Jens Spahn (CDU) urged those who want to be vaccinated to be patient.
Currently, vaccine centres around Germany are setting aside most doses for those people getting their second shots, so it may take a while to get an available appointment. GPs and specialists are also giving appointments from the general population – however, they are also likely to be extremely busy.
For the first time, more than 6,000 company in-house physicians are getting involved in the vaccinations. Within the first week, they will receive 702,000 out of a total of 6.6 million vaccine doses reserved for them over the summer.
The aim of the priority groups was to protect those at high risk of picking up the virus. Priority group 3, the last to open up around Germany in May, included anyone over the age of 60 and those with pre-existing conditions.
In Germany, it is is possible to get a jab through four manufacturers: BioNTech/Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca or Johnson & Johnson.
‘Not immediately available’
Gerd Landsberg, chief executive of the German Association of Towns and Municipalities, told the Rheinische Post on Monday that the lifting of vaccination prioritisation would lead to disillusionment among many people.
“Disappointment and frustration are pre-programmed in the process, as sufficient vaccines are not immediately available,” he said.
“Frustration and disappointment will be exacerbated because no appointments for initial vaccinations will be available at vaccination centers until mid-June 2021 – possibly even until the end of June – in North Rhine-Westphalia, for example.”
In the capital Berlin, centres had some free appointments on Monday morning from the end of July onwards.
German primary care physicians also dampened expectations for the end of vaccination prioritisation.
“After all, the vaccine is still too scarce for the high demand and will continue to be supplied too unreliably,” Ulrich Weigeldt, chairman of the German GP association, told the Funde Mediengruppe newspaper (Monday).
At the same time, with the removal of priority groups and the announcement of vaccines for anyone over the age of 12, demand will increase, he added.
“But the setting will remain the same: We vaccinate as much as we can.”
In many parts of Germany, high risk groups have still yet to be vaccinated. In Schleswig-Holstein, Hamburg and Bavaria, prioritisation by risk groups in vaccination centers will remain in place for now.
In Bremen, the centres are continuing to work through the priority lists for the time being. In Saarland, people in the previous priority groups are still to be given preference for appointments.
In the remaining states, the previous vaccination order will also end in vaccination centres.