Should Germany bring in compulsory Covid vaccines for frontline workers?

Should Germany bring in compulsory Covid vaccines for frontline workers?
Healthcare workers at a vaccination station in Ehingen, Baden-Württemberg earlier this year. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Stefan Puchner
France has announced mandatory Covid vaccines for health workers to tackle a fourth virus wave. Could this happen in Germany? The chair of the Ethics Council doesn't think so.

French president Emmanuel Macron on Monday announced a package of measures to help France control a fourth wave of Covid cases.

The measures include stricter border controls and making the Covid-19 vaccine compulsory for all healthcare workers.

However, chairwoman of the German Ethics Council, Alena Buyx, said on Tuesday that she considers compulsory Covid jabs for certain professional groups in Germany unnecessary.

Speaking to broadcaster ZDF’s Morgenmagazin programme, Buyx pointed out that the Ethics Council had previously very cautiously stated that under certain circumstances Germany could think about occupation-related, very limited mandatory vaccinations. “However, I would say that these circumstances do not apply at all,” she stressed.

Firstly, Buyx said, there are other ways to protect the most vulnerable, particularly at-risk groups. “And we have much better vaccination rates among the different occupational groups than in France, for example,” she added. “We have really super vaccination rates among health personnel and teachers. That’s why I don’t think we need it at all.”

Chancellor Angela Merkel also weighed into the debate later on Tuesday saying Germany had no plans to bring in mandatory vaccines

In France, employees in hospitals, nursing homes and similar settings now have until mid-September to get vaccinated. Unvaccinated healthcare workers “will not be able to work and will not be paid” from September 15th, Health Minister Olivier Véran said on Monday evening following Macron’s announcements.

Calendar: France tightens the rules ahead of fourth wave of covid

‘Germany doesn’t need it’

Human geneticist Wolfram Henn, who sits on the German Ethics Council, has called on the government to make Covid vaccinations compulsory for teachers and daycare workers.

He said that anyone who chooses to work with vulnerable people “takes on a special professional responsibility”, adding: “We need mandatory vaccination for personnel in schools and nurseries.”

READ ALSO: German Ethics Council advisor wants mandatory Covid jabs for teachers

Buyx said that is Henn’s personal opinion – not that of the Ethics Council.

“I don’t think that (compulsory vaccinations) will come because we really won’t need it,” she said.

However, Buyx is concerned about the situation for younger people. She pointed out that there is currently no general vaccination recommendation by Germany’s Standing Commission on Vaccination (STIKO) for 12 to 17 year olds and no vaccine approved in the EU yet for children under 12.

STIKO has only issued a recommendation for children with certain pre-existing conditions to get jabbed. However, people aged 12 to 17 can be vaccinated on a case-by-case basis if they decide in consultation with their doctor and parents.

“You can’t say we’re going to let the virus crash through these groups now, or we’re going to watch the schools have to close again because there are just completely unregulated infections going on,” Buyx said. “Something absolutely has to happen now to protect these groups well too.”

Meanwhile, Buyx described the lifting of almost all Covid restrictions in the UK on July 19th – a date now dubbed ‘Freedom Day’ – as a high-risk experiment.

It’s clear that the more people are vaccinated, the less meaningful the incidence rate of infections is, she said. But in Britain – despite very good vaccination rates – the number of hospital admissions is also rising.

“We should be a bit more cautious and not use the good summer to build up another big wave,” Buyx warned. So far, around 58.7 percent of the population has had at least one jab in Germany, and 43 percent are fully vaccinated. 

Member comments

  1. In answer to the question, an emphatic yes. Will it happen, an emphatic no. Why? This is Germany and the Germans are totally paranoid of doing anything that they perceive as being an infringement or invasion of individual rights. Personally I think the Ethics Council are wrong and that not following the French model is tantamount to allowing front line workers and teachers etc to go to work with a cobra round their neck – it may not bite you but it more than likely will

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