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What people who’ve had the J&J jab need to know for travel to Germany

People who've had one dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine are not seen as fully vaccinated for entry to Germany under new regulations. We break down what you should be aware of.

People walk in Hamburg Airport earlier in January.
People walk in Hamburg Airport earlier in January. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Jonas Walzberg

What’s happened?

Previously, people who received a single shot of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, also known as Janssen, were classed as fully vaccinated in Germany. 

But an amendment to the rules, which came into force earlier this month, means that people who have a single dose of J&J do not count as fully vaccinated. They have to have a second jab to be classed as fully vaccinated under the travel restrictions.

This is important when travelling to Germany because in some cases people who are not fully vaccinated are not allowed to enter the country, and if they are, they face tougher restrictions depending on the risk classification of the region they are travelling from. 

The change potentially affects millions of people who’ve had the J&J jab in Germany – as well as many people abroad. 

It comes after guidance from the Paul Ehrlich Institute (PEI) published on January 15th said that people now need two doses of J&J to be fully vaccinated. 

The Local Germany contacted the Health Ministry for clarification to see how this applies to people crossing the German border.

A Health Ministry spokesman confirmed to us that there had been amendments to Germany’s so-called Corona Entry Regulation.

He said that for someone who has had one dose of the J&J vaccine,  “two vaccination doses are required for a complete vaccination”.

“Complete vaccination protection for an initial vaccination with the Covid-19 Vaccine Janssen is also present if the second vaccination was carried out with an mRNA vaccine (Spikevax/Moderna or Corminaty/BioNTech),” he added.

Spelling it out once more, the spokesman said: “Therefore, two vaccine doses are currently required for proof of complete vaccination protection according to the Corona Entry Ordinance.”

READ ALSO: Are people who’ve had the single J&J jab no longer fully vaccinated in Germany?

What does this mean?

People are not classed as fully vaccinated may be refused entry to Germany. Under the current travel restrictions, people have to be fully vaccinated to enter Germany from most non-EU countries.

Unvaccinated people over the age of six who are allowed to travel to Germany but are coming from a high risk country have to show proof of a negative Covid test before entering the country.

A doctor's assistant preparing the J&J vaccine in Berlin.

A doctor’s assistant preparing the J&J vaccine in Berlin. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Wolfgang Kumm

Fully vaccinated or recovered people can show proof of their vaccination/recovery instead of a test. 

Unvaccinated or partially vaccinated people also have to quarantine for 10 days, with the option to shorten it with a negative test result taken at the earliest five days into quarantine.

If a country is classed as a ‘virus variant area of concern’ then everyone – whether they are vaccinated or not – has to show proof of a test and quarantine for 14 days on arrival in Germany. An entry ban on non-residents is also put in place if a country goes on the red list.

Why is there confusion?

People who were offered J&J last year were told that a single dose meant full vaccination status. 

Later in the year, the German government issued a recommendation for J&J recipients to get a second jab with an mRNA vaccine. However, this was not a requirement to achieve full vaccination status. 

Most people who had J&J thought they were getting their booster vaccination early. 

Now that’s changed, many people could be caught out if they are travelling. 

To make things more complicated the new regulations do not necessarily apply across the board. 

For instance, Deutsche Bahn told The Local that people who’ve only had one J&J jab would need to get a test when travelling on public transport under the 3G rules because they were following the Paul Ehrlich Institute guidance.

But Berlin’s public transport BVG told us they would not be updating their restrictions, meaning people can travel on BVG services with one dose of J&J and not need a negative Covid test. 

READ ALSO: Millions of Germans no longer considered fully vaccinated on public transport

What about boosters?

To add to the confusion, most people who had J&J believed they were getting their booster jab when the recommendation for a second vaccine surfaced. 

Now the government says that people who’ve had J&J plus a second shot need a further jab three months later – and that is their booster. 

But some states say that people who’ve had the J&J plus another jab are already boosted. 

A sign for the 2G-plus rules at a restaurant in Dresden.

A sign for the 2G-plus rules at a restaurant in Dresden. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-Zentralbild | Robert Michael

Knowing if you are boosted or not is key for going to public places, like restaurants and cafes, in Germany. The 2G-plus rules mean that vaccinated/recovered people need to be boosted or have a negative Covid test. 

READ ALSO: How Germany’s 2G-plus Covid rules have left millions of people confused

What counts as a fully vaccinated person when it comes to entry into Germany?

According to the Corona Entry Regulation, a vaccinated person is an “asymptomatic person who is in possession of a vaccination certificate issued in his or her name”.

The Health Ministry spokesman told us that vaccinations must comply with the “specifications published by the Paul Ehrlich Institute (PEI)”.

The guidance is based on the vaccines used, the number of doses and interval times.

People are counted as being fully vaccinated in Germany two weeks after their second dose.

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€9 for 90: Everything you need to know about Germany’s cheap travel deal

Germany's €9 monthly transport ticket is coming. Here's everything you should know about the deal that will allow you to to travel the country for next to nothing this summer.

€9 for 90: Everything you need to know about Germany's cheap travel deal

What’s all this about cheap transport?

Germany is about to launch a mega cheap transport ticket – and a lot of people are getting very excited about it.

The “€9 for 90” ticket is a monthly travel card that people can buy for just €9 per month over a three-month period. It’s a fraction of the price of a normal monthly travel card and – even more incredibly – can be used anywhere in the country on local and regional transport. 

The deal was initially announced back in April as part of an energy relief package put together by the government. And despite some anger from state leaders over funding for the scheme, the ticket cleared its final hurdle in the Bundesrat on Friday.

READ ALSO: German states threaten to block the €9 ticket in the Bundesrat

So far, the €9 ticket has received a lot of publicity and attention. That’s probably because it’s one of the more fun measures to combat the energy crisis – one that doesn’t involve complicated claims and write-offs in your tax return.

Instead, the government is hoping that the new ticket will cut monthly transport costs for households and encourage people to use more eco-friendly transport options. With fuel prices spiralling, it’s a great time to leave the car at home and travel around for next to nothing, while doing your bit for the environment. 

Sounds great. Can everyone buy it?

Yes! It doesn’t matter whether you’re a tourist on a weekend trip from Austria, a part-time Germany resident or Chancellor Olaf Scholz himself: everyone will be able to purchase the €9 ticket. (We imagine Olaf may already have his own transport, though.) 

It will, however, have your name on it, so it can’t be pooled between friends (as tempting as an even cheaper travel deal would be). 

READ ALSO: What tourists in Germany need to know about the €9 public transport ticket

Busy train in Stuttgart

People board a busy train in Stuttgart. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Marijan Murat

When will it be available?

It’s currently available in a handful of cities, including Hamburg, Stuttgart and Freiburg – but everyone else will be able to purchase it from May 23rd onwards. 

The deal itself will be a summer travel offer. That means the first monthly ticket will be valid from June 1st and the last monthly ticket will expire on August 31st. Each of the tickets will be valid for the full calendar month so you won’t be able to mix and match with existing tickets.

For example, if you’ve already bought a ticket that’s expiring in mid-June, you wouldn’t then be able to buy a €9 ticket running from the middle of June to the middle of August.

Instead, you would require two €9 tickets  for June and July – though you can get a refund for the part of the prior ticket you didn’t end up using.

Where can I get hold of it?

The ticket will be available via Deutsche Bahn’s DB Navigator app, on the DB website, at in-station terminals and at ticket desks and offices.

Regional transport operators are likely to have their own ticket purchasing options as well – most likely online, but in some cases also at ticket machines and in-station offices. 

READ ALSO: How to get a hold of the €9 ticket in Berlin

A regional train near Hornberg, in the Black Forest.

A regional train near Hornberg, in the Black Forest. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Philipp von Ditfurth

What types of public transport can I use it on?

The ticket is valid throughout Germany, but only on regional and local transport.

That means you can use it on all local trains like the U-Bahn and S-Bahn, as well as on trams and buses. You can also travel on the Regionalverkehr (regional trains) across Germany. 

You can’t use the ticket for private services like Flixbus and Flixtrain or on other long-distance rail services like IC, EC and ICE trains. If you’re travelling around your state and aren’t sure if the ticket will be valid, check if the train you’re taking has an ‘RE’ in the name. That’s the shorthand for regional trains.

It probably goes without saying, but taxi services won’t be included in the price. And, yes, you will still need to pay for those e-scooters as well. 

Can I use it to travel first class?

If you’re hoping for a month of budget transport but also want to be treated like royalty whilst on board, we may have to disappoint you. The €9 ticket can only be used in second-class carriages.

This is largely because there’s likely to be huge demand for the budget offer – so there could be scuffles for first-class seats with that extra bit of legroom. 

READ ALSO: How to explore Germany by train with the €9 ticket

I’ve already got an Abo. What can I do?

This has been a big concern for the folk who have already opted to pay full price for their public transport. (What fools they were…) 

Luckily, this group of keen transport users won’t miss out either. According to the DB website, people who’ve already shelled out on a monthly or annual ticket will be contacted by their local transport provider and informed about how they can get a refund.

If you’ve got a standing order set up, the transport operator will likely just debit the €9 from your account instead of the usual amount. Otherwise, you may get sent a refund via direct debit. 

Your subscription ticket will be valid for local public transport throughout Germany during the three month offer period – not just in your area.

Will students also benefit from the ticket?

Absolutely – though this is one area where things may be a little less well-organised. If you’re a student with a semester ticket, you will be entitled to a refund of the extra amount you paid, which will likely be handled by your university. 

One thing that seems a little unclear is whether the semester ticket will suddenly be valid outside of your local region, just like the €9 ticket is. We assume it will, but we’ll try to clarify this with DB and other service providers in the coming weeks. 

Can I take my bike on board?

Unfortunately, bikes aren’t included in the offer – and this seems like a deliberate choice. 

DB is recommending that people leave their bikes at home during the three months that the €9 ticket is on offer. This is because trains are likely to be extremely busy and they can’t guarantee that they’ll have room for everyone, let alone a hundred or so bikes. Instead, you can usually hire a bike at your destination.

However, if you’ve already got a subscription that allows you to take your bike with you (i.e. a student semester ticket or another type of Abo), you’ll still be able to do so. 

What about my dog? 

You will unfortunately not be able to purchase a €9 ticket in the name of Rover T. Dog (well, you could try, but it probably won’t work). However, the usual rules will apply to travelling with a furry friend. 

In some places, you may need to buy an extra dog ticket for Rover, while in others, he’ll be able to accompany you free-of-charge. 

READ ALSO: Who benefits from Germany’s €9 public transport ticket offer?

A woman carries her dog through a Berlin train station

A woman carries her onesie-clad dog in a Berlin train station. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Annette Riedl

Do children need to pay for a ticket? 

Children under six can travel for free on public transport, while children over the age of six will need their own €9 ticket. 

What about seat reservations? 

Transport operators are trying to keep things as flexible as possible to cope with demand over summer, so you unfortunately won’t be able to use the ticket to reserve a seat in advance.

Won’t public transport be rammed? 

At the moment, nobody really knows. According to the Association of German Transport Companies (VDV), there could be as many as 30 million public transport users per month over summer – but this is only a rough estimate.

READ ALSO: How many people will use the €9 ticket?

One way around this is to try and travel on weekdays and off-peak services where possible and (as mentioned) to hire bikes rather than bringing them in the train.

It could also be helpful to familiarise yourself with different transport connections and routes in your area. 

The other thing that could help ease the crush on public transport is the fact that the government is also planning to cut taxes on fuel in tandem with the €9 ticket. That means that, for three months over summer, drivers will be able to get cheaper petrol and diesel – so some may indeed decide to take the car after all.

The ticket ends at the end of August. What happens next? 

Once again, it’s hard to say. Critics of the €9 ticket say that the scheme will leave gaping holes in transport budgets and could ultimately lead to ticket prices going up in autumn.

On the other hand, proponents of the offer believe that it could have the effect of luring people back to public transport after the Covid crisis. That would mean that more people would be buying subscriptions after summer and using local buses and trains, which can only be a good thing for transport budgets in the long-run. 

READ ALSO: ‘Fantastic’: Your verdict on Germany’s €9 transport ticket

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