German pharmacies to offer Covid vaccinations ‘from February 8th’

Starting in February, people in Germany may be able to get a Covid vaccination at their local pharmacy.

Pharmacy staff behind the counter at a pharmacy in Hamburg
Pharmacy staff work behind the counter at a pharmacy in Hamburg. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Marcus Brandt

In a move intended to ease pressure on state vaccination clinics, mobile teams and GPs, staff at pharmacies have been trained in administering the vaccines since early January.

At the same time, the government has been working to set up the technical infrastructure required for the pharmacies to transfer data on vaccinations carried out to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI).

Speaking to Tagesschau on Friday, Gabriele Regina Overwiening, president of the German Pharmacists’ Association, said the pharmacies were now ready to start rolling out jabs to customers. 

“Next week, pharmacies will be able to order Covid vaccines for the first time in order to offer vaccinations at their branches,” she said. “The first vaccinations can then be carried out from February 8th.”

READ ALSO: German pharmacies to offer Covid jabs ‘within two weeks’

Germany amended its Covid laws in December to pave the way for pharmacists, dentists and vets to carry out jabs alongside doctors.

Pharmacies will be remunerated for carrying out the jabs in the same way that GPs are, but there’s no obligation for them to participate in the scheme. The prerequisite for doing so is that the staff administering the jabs are properly trained.

Up until recently, people have had to rely on doctors, paediatricians, vaccination centres and mobile teams in order to get inoculated against Covid-19.

As of Friday, 73.8 percent of the general population were fully vaccinated, while just over half (52.2 percent) of the population had received a booster jab.

The assistance of the pharmacies could be a useful aid if the government opts to implement a general vaccine mandate. Such a move is currently being discussed in parliament with a vote planned for the coming weeks. 

READ MORE: German MPs set out plans for over-18s vaccine mandate

Member comments

  1. Welcome to the 21st century. They’ll be accepting payments with debit cards next. Highly disruptive stuff.

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Germany’s top court approves Covid vaccine mandate for health workers

Germany's highest court ruled on Thursday that the mandatory Covid-19 vaccination rule for employees in health and care sectors is constitutional.

Germany's top court approves Covid vaccine mandate for health workers

From mid-March this year, health and care workers in Germany have had to prove they are vaccinated against Covid-19 or recently recovered. 

If they can’t provide this proof they face fines or even bans from working – however it is unclear how widely it has been enforced due to concerns over staff shortages. 

On Thursday the constitutional court rejected complaints against the partial vaccination mandate, saying the protection of vulnerable people outweighs any infringement of employees’ rights.

The law covers employees in hospitals as well as care homes, clinics, emergency services, doctors’ surgeries and facilities for people with disabilities. 

READ ALSO: What you need to know about Germany’s Covid vaccine mandate for health staff

The court acknowledged that the law meant employees who don’t want to be vaccinated would have to deal with professional consequences or change their job – or even profession. 

However, the obligation to be vaccinated against Covid as a health or care worker is constitutionally justified and proportionate, according to the judges.

They said that’s because compulsory vaccination in this case is about protecting elderly and sick people. These groups are at increased risk of becoming infected by Covid-19 and are more likely to become seriously ill or die.

The protection of vulnerable groups is of “paramount importance”, the resolution states.

Health Minister Karl Lauterbach welcomed Thursday’s ruling and thanked health care facilities who have already implemented the vaccine mandate. He said: “The state is obliged to protect vulnerable groups”.

Course of the pandemic doesn’t change things

According to the ruling, the development of the pandemic in Germany is no reason to change course. 

The court based its decision on the assessment of the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) and medical societies, stating that it could still be assumed that a vaccination would protect against the Omicron variant.

It’s true that the protection of vaccines decreases over time, and most courses of disease are milder with the Omicron variant. Nevertheless, the institution-based vaccination obligation remains constitutional because, according to the experts, the higher risk for old and sick people has not fundamentally changed.

A vaccine mandate that would have affected more of the population in Germany was rejected by the Bundestag in a vote held in April

MPs had been allowed to vote with their conscience on the issue rather than having to vote along party lines.