Europe, Latest on coronavirus outbreak

Germany makes COVID vaccines mandatory for health care workers

Fighting coronavirus top priority for new government, says Health Minister Karl Lauterbach

Oliver Towfigh Nia   | 30.07.2021
Germany makes COVID vaccines mandatory for health care workers

BERLIN

Germany’s parliament voted on Friday in support of a tougher infection protection law to stem the fourth wave of COVID-19.

The amendment to the Infection Protection Act stipulates that employees in facilities with vulnerable people such as nursing homes and clinics must prove by mid-March 2022 that they have been vaccinated, or recovered.

Besides doctors, inoculation is now mandatory for pharmacists, dentists and veterinarians as well.

As many as 571 lawmakers cast their ballots in favor of the bill, while 80 voted against it and 38 abstained.

The move follows the example of neighboring Austria, which is also planning mandatory vaccinations from February. Nearly 70% of Germany's 84 million population is fully vaccinated.

Earlier in the day, the German health minister declared the fight against the coronavirus pandemic the main priority of the new federal government.

"The top priority for us is to protect the population in the health crisis," said Karl Lauterbach during a televised parliamentary debate on the new legislation. "We will do everything we can to end this crisis quickly."

He had called on the opposition parties to cooperate, saying the health crisis should not be instrumentalized for political disputes.

The new government wants to massively step up the vaccination campaign over the next few weeks. Chancellor Olaf Scholz had announced the goal of 30 million vaccinations by Christmas. This would include both first, second and booster shots.​​​​​​​

Authorities have already implemented tougher measures. Many federal states require passengers on public transport to be vaccinated, or have recovered or tested negative.

A number of cities and municipalities have also banned the unvaccinated from entering restaurants, bars and other leisure venues, as well as non-essential shops and Christmas markets.


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