“The aim is to get back to the life we know as swiftly as possible”
Priority system for vaccinations to be lifted in June
On Monday, the Federal Chancellor and the Heads of Government of the Länder discussed lifting the priority system for COVID-19 vaccinations no later than June. Priority groups 1 and 2 have already been vaccinated in many federal states, said Chancellor Angela Merkel. She expects people in Priority Group 3 to receive their first shot before the end of May. The priority system could then be lifted in June. “That does not mean that everyone can be vaccinated immediately,” she said after the meeting. “But it means that everyone can see about getting an appointment to be vaccinated.” As of June company doctors too are to be involved in the vaccination campaign to a greater extent.
Basically, by the end of the summer, everyone who wishes to be vaccinated should have had the opportunity. “This obviously presupposes that the vaccines are effective, in other words that no mutations emerge against which the vaccines do not offer protection. But in terms of the number of vaccine doses pledged, we will be able to offer everyone a vaccination by the end of the summer,” said the Chancellor.
Chancellor Angela Merkel declared, “The aim is to give everybody the full range of opportunities again, that is fundamental rights and a return to the lives they know as swiftly as possible – in other words to keep restrictions to a minimum.”
The Federal Chancellor and the Heads of Government of the Länder also discussed easing restrictions for those who have been vaccinated or who have recovered from a COVID-19 infection. “Those who have recovered will be treated the same as those who have been vaccinated, if the infection was within the last six months or if the person having recovered has had one vaccination dose plus 14 days for the immune response. Then people having recovered will be classed along with those who have been vaccinated,” explained Angela Merkel. They will not, for instance, be required to show proof of a negative test result when they go shopping or go to the hairdresser. The Chancellor stated, “It is clear that when a rapid test result is required for access, those who have been vaccinated and those who have recovered from a COVID-19 infection will not be required to produce these test results.” Likewise, people who have been vaccinated will not be required to quarantine when entering Germany from another country. The aim is to return to the life we know as swiftly as possible – “but it won’t be possible as swiftly as we might like.”
Vaccinated, recovered, tested – the differences
People classed as vaccinated must have full vaccination cover in line with the recommendations of the German Standing Committee on Vaccination (STIKO) following inoculation with a vaccine that is approved for use within the European Union. Depending on the vaccine used, that means they must have had one or two shots, the last of which must have been at least 14 days previously. Evidence can be provided in the form of digital confirmation or on paper.
To be classed as having recovered from an infection, a positive PCR test result must be produced that is at least 28 days old. This will be valid for up to 6 months, which is the period during which it is assumed that a person will have adequate immune protection. It is important to note that, as things stand, evidence of SARS-CoV-2 antibodies is not enough to make any guaranteed statement about immunity.
To be classed as having been tested, evidence must be provided of the negative results of a PCR test or of a rapid (antigen) test conducted by trained staff or of a rapid (antigen) self-test conducted under the supervision of trained staff.
As far as is currently known, people who are vaccinated and people who have recovered from a COVID-19 infection have a lower risk of infecting other people. Nevertheless, regulations such as face masks, distancing and hygiene continue to apply.
Under the new Article28c of the Infection Protection Act the Federal Government can issue regulations by ordinance for people who have been vaccinated, people who have been tested, or people who are classified as comparable. The ordinance must be approved by the two chambers of the German parliament, the Bundestag and the Bundesrat.