German words you need to know: Kreuzgeimpft

Across Germany, you might hear people describe themselves as "kreuzgeimpft" or receiving the "Merkel cocktail". Here's what it means - and why it's causing problems for travel.

German words you need to know: Kreuzgeimpft
A sign reads 'Cross vaccination - switch from AstraZeneca to mRNA vaccine' at a Munich centre. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Sven Hoppe

We are talking differently nowadays. Our knowledge of scientific words has skyrocketed as we’ve been living through this pandemic. 

But the German language beats English hands down, at least for new words. Earlier this year the the Leibniz Institute for the German Language found more than 1,200 new German words inspired by the pandemic. And the list keeps growing. 

Whether it’s Impfneid (vaccine envy), Kuschelkontakt (cuddle contact) for the person you meet for cuddles or Coronaspeck (coronavirus fat or bacon) – the weight you gained during lockdowns, Germans have excelled with pandemic-specific words. 

READ ALSO: The new German words that perfectly describe the Coronavirus pandemic

Today we’re talking about kreuzgeimpft because many people in Europe – including Chancellor Angela Merkel – are Kreuz (cross) geimpft – (vaccinated). That’s cross vaccinated, also known as mix-and-match vaccines in English. 

The Leibniz Institute describes Kreuzimpfung (cross vaccination) as a “combination of vaccines of different types or from different manufacturers (for the first and second vaccination) against the SARS-CoV2 virus”.

Geimpft is used as an adjective in German to describe people who’ve been vaccinated, or as the past participle. It comes from the verb impfen – to vaccinate.

Due to a series of events in Germany, culminating in the government advisory board recommending that everyone should get an mRNA jab (BioNTech/Pfizer or Modern) after the vector vaccine AstraZeneca, lots of people in Germany have been kreuzgeimpt.

READ ALSO: Covid mix-and-match vaccines: Why is it so common in Germany – and is it safe?

The advice from STIKO vaccine commission from the beginning of July said studies show the immune response after two doses of different types of vaccine – first vector, then mRNA vaccine – is “clearly superior” to the immune response after two doses of AstraZeneca.

Chancellor and scientist Merkel followed this path in June when she received Moderna after getting the AZ shot earlier this year. 

You may have even heard people in bars or cafes declaring to their friends that they got the “Merkel cocktail”. 

Despite the evidence showing that protection is improved with mix-and-match vaccines, it’s already causing problems for travel. 

The UK government recently changed its travel rules which mean fully vaccinated people arriving in the country have to quarantine for 10 days if they had two different vaccine doses. 

Arrivals from amber list countries no longer need to quarantine if they are fully vaccinated. But a change to the rules on August 12th stated that to be considered ‘fully vaccinated’ by UK rules, travellers must have had two vaccines of the same brand.

That is despite the practice of mixing and matching vaccines being common across Europe. 

As Germany is currently classed as a green list country by the UK, unvaccinated people can also avoid quarantine. 

If you are kreuzgeimpft, you are considered fully vaccinated in the EU, the European Commission says. But you must have had two vaccines approved in the EU. 


Ich habe gerade den Moderna-Impfstoff für meine zweite Impfung bekommen. Ich bin kreuzgeimpft!

I just got the Moderna vaccine for my second vaccine. I’m cross vaccinated!

Ist er kreuzgeimpft? Er könnte Probleme haben, nach England zu reisen.

Did he get mix-and-match vaccines? He might have problems travelling to England.

Member comments

  1. As to being ‘Kreuzgeimpft’ , does anyone know how the USA is treating this situation? I know that Astra-Zeneca was never approved there, so I would have to assume they would not recognise someone as being fully vaccinated with this cocktail. I am a US citizen and currently in this situation…

    1. Anyone permitted to enter the US now (e.g. citizens) must have a negative test result (48 antigen, 72 PCR). Since the USA is not imposing any quarantine or contact tracing apps (upon entry), that shouldn’t be a problem if you need to get into the US.

      If you are staying in the US, though, you will have to get a 2nd dose of an approved vaccine – for example, right now, CDC guidance for international students who have gotten a WHO approved vaccine that’s not recognized in the USA – they have to get the mRNA series again here.

      If you are in Germany, it shouldn’t matter

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German word of the day: Kladderadatsch

Whether it’s a pile of clothes on the floor or even the downfall of a political system, this is a German word for all things messy and chaotic.

German word of the day: Kladderadatsch

The German language is full of wonderful words that don’t have a true English translation: a personal favourite is Verschlimmbessern, which means to try and improve a situation only to end up making it worse. Der Kladderadatsch is another word which defies simple translation, meaning something like “unholy mess” or “clutter”, but also “chaos”,  “collapse”, or “crash”.

The reason for this slightly strange combination of meanings is that Kladderadatsch is onomatopoeic: it describes the sound that disorganised things make. When the word is used to describe a crash, an English onomatopoeic equivalent would probably be “kerblam!” or something similar. When you’re explaining that your bedroom is a mess, however, you’re most likely instead hoping to convey the idea of clutter – not that your laundry is making a “kerblam” noise! 

In a political sense, Kladderadatsch can also mean a particularly messy scandal.

Although Kladderadatsch can most likely trace its origin back to early 19th century Berlin, the word only became particularly popular following the first publication of a satirical magazine called Kladderadatsch in 1848. This magazine, published weekly from 1848 until 1944, was born out of the radical student protests of the time, which many believed were the signs of the old political system collapsing. 

According to legend, the founders of the magazine – Albert Hofmann and David Kalisch – came up with the name after watching a dog jump up onto a tavern table, knocking over bottles and glasses alike. Watching the chaos before them, they recognised the parallels with their political times, and so Kladderadatsch was christened.


Ich habe den ganzen Kladderadatsch in den Müll geschmissen.

I threw the whole mess into the rubbish

In unserer Stadt gab es deswegen einen großen Kladderadatsch

There was a big scandal in our town because of it

Seine Geschäfte endeten mit einem großen Kladderadatsch

His businesses ended in a big ‘crash!’