Covid-19 vaccinations

Information around the vaccination against the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2.

On 21 December 2020, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) approved the first vaccine to prevent SARS-CoV-2 (Biontech/Pfizer vaccine) for use across the EU. The Covid-19 vaccination programme was launched in Germany as planned on 27 December 2020. A second vaccine (Moderna) was approved on 6 January 2021, the third (Vaxzevria (AstraZeneca)) vaccine was approved on 29 January and the fourth vaccine (Janssen / Johnson & Johnson) on 11 March.
On this page, you will find information on which groups of people will be entitled to get the vaccine first, how to get an appointment for the vaccine and how the vaccination will take place.
To help you keep up to date with all the latest developments, this page will be updated regularly. Last updated on: September, 6th 2021

Who is entitled to a vaccine?

Anyone who lives or works in Germany or who is usually resident in Germany is entitled to get a Covid-19 vaccine, regardless of their insurance coverage. The vaccine is free for these people.

Priority groups

On 7 June 2021, priority restrictions were lifted for all available vaccines across the whole of Germany. Any person, regardless of the state of their health or their occupation, can now be vaccinated. Nevertheless, long wait times are still to be expected due to the limited availability of vaccines.

Priority restrictions will first be lifted for vaccinations in GP surgeries, specialist and private doctors’ practices, as well as for vaccines administered by company doctors. The individual federal states are free to decide if priority restrictions will be lifted in vaccination centres as well, or if they will continue to prioritise individuals in groups 1 to 3 due to limited supplies of vaccines. After all, in many places it has not even been possible to vaccinate all of the people in the priority groups yet.

Doctors are also free to decide if they will continue to prioritise unvaccinated people in groups 1 to 3.

Originally three different priority groups were defined in order to be able to offer vaccinations to especially vulnerable individuals first.

1.   People over 80 years old.

2.    People receiving treatment, support or care or working in inpatient or partial inpatient facilities for providing treatment, support or care for elderly people and those requiring care.

3.    People who regularly provide treatment, support or care for elderly people or those requiring care in outpatient care services and people who provide assessment and testing services for outpatients.

4.    Healthcare workers with a very high risk of exposure to the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, including staff working in:
a)    Intensive care units, 
b)    A+E units, 
c)    Emergency services, 
d)    Outpatient palliative care,
e)    SARS-CoV-2 vaccination centres and 
f)    Sectors in which aerosol-generating procedures relevant to infection are carried out.

5.    Healthcare workers who regularly provide treatment, support or care for people with a very high risk of developing serious or fatal complications following infection with the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, including staff working in
a)    Oncology and
b)    Transplant medicine or
c)     staff working with severely immunosuppressed patients.

According to the German government’s official schedule, all people in group 1 should have been given the option of being vaccinated by the end of March 2021.

1.    People between 70 and 79 years old.

2.    People with a high or very high risk of developing serious or fatal complications following infection with the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus:
a)    People with Trisomy 21 (Down’s syndrome),
b)    People recovering from organ transplants,
c)    People with dementia, a mental disability or serious psychiatric illness (particularly bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, severe depression),
d)    People with cancer that require treatment,
e)    People with interstitial lung disease, COPD, cystic fibrosis or other similar severe chronic lung diseases,
f)     People with diabetes mellitus with complications,
g)    People with cirrhosis of the liver or other chronic liver diseases,
h)    People with chronic kidney disease,
i)     People with obesity (BMI > 40),
j)     People with underlying health conditions, who have undergone an individual medical assessment determining that they have a high or very high risk of developing a serious or fatal illness from Covid-19.

Note: People with illnesses detailed in paragraph 2 a) to i) must provide on the day of vaccination an informal doctor’s certificate (e.g from their GP) attesting the presence of a risk justifying vaccination. The type of risk described in point j) may only be established by facilities or doctors who have been approved to fulfil this task by the highest regional health authorities or by the bodies designated by these authorities (section 6, paragraph 6 CoronaImpfV).

3.    Up to two close contacts of
a)    a person aged 70 or over requiring care and not resident in a care home or a person requiring care and not resident in a care home who suffers from one of the conditions described under section 2, points a) to j),
b)    a pregnant person.

Note: The contacts described in paragraph 3 must provide proof of their designation by the person at risk identified under points a) and b) or by their legal representative.

4.    People working in inpatient facilities providing treatment, support or care for people with mental or physical disabilities or those who regularly treat, support or care for people with mental or physical disabilities in outpatient services.

5.    Healthcare workers with a high or increased risk of exposure to the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, 
a)    particularly doctors and other staff who are in regular direct contact with patients, 
b)    staff working in blood and plasma donation facilities and 
c)    who regularly collect body material for the purpose of SARS-CoV-2 diagnostics.

6.    Police and law enforcement personnel who are exposed to a high risk of infection through their work to maintain public order, particularly at demonstrations, as well as soldiers exposed to an increased risk of infection on missions overseas.

7.    Persons working in foreign missions of the Federal Republic of Germany or for the German Archaeological Institute in places of employment with inadequate health care and who are consequently exposed to a high risk of infection.

8.    Persons working abroad for German political foundations or organizations and institutions based in the Federal Republic of Germany in the fields of crisis prevention, stabilization, post-conflict rehabilitation, development cooperation or foreign cultural and educational policy, or as German nationals in international organizations in places with inadequate health care and consequently exposed to a high risk of infection.

9.    People who work in childcare facilities, in child day care and in elementary schools or special schools.

10.  People working in the public health service or in key positions maintaining public hospital infrastructure.

11.  People housed in facilities listed under section 36, paragraph 1, numbers 3 or 4 of the infection protection law or in other facilities for the homeless or in women's shelters.

12.  People who regularly work with elderly people or those who require care to provide everyday support within the framework of services recognised by national law under section 45a of the German Social Security Code, Book XI (SGB XI).

According to the German government’s current schedule, the vaccination of people in group 2 should start from April 2021.

1.    People between 60 and 69 years old.

2.    People with an increased risk of developing serious or fatal complications following infection with the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus:
a)    Cancer patients not undergoing treatment who have been in remission (reduction or alleviation of the cancer),
b)    People with immuno-deficiency conditions or HIV infection, autoimmune disorders or rheumatological diseases,
c)    People suffering from heart failure, arrhythmia, atrial fibrillation, coronary heart disease or arterial hypertension,
d)    People with cerebrovascular disorders, apoplexy and other chronic neurological disorders,
e)    People with bronchial asthma,
f)     People with chronic inflammatory bowel disease (IBD),
g)    People with diabetes mellitus without complications,
h)    People with obesity (BMI > 30) and
i)    People with underlying health conditions, who have undergone an individual medical assessment determining that they have an increased risk of developing a serious or fatal illness following infection with the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus.

Note: People with illnesses detailed in paragraph 2 a) to h) must provide on the day of vaccination an informal doctor’s certificate (e.g from their GP) attesting the presence of a risk justifying vaccination. The type of risk described in point i) may only be established by facilities or doctors who have been approved to fulfil this task by the highest regional health authorities or by the bodies designated by these authorities (section 6, paragraph 6 CoronaImpfV).

3.   Up to two close contacts of people aged 60 or over requiring care and not resident in a care home or of a person requiring care and not resident in a care home with a person described above (section 2, points a) to i). The contact people described in paragraph 3 must be designated by the person at risk or by their legal representative.

4.   People
a)   who are members of constitutional institutions,
b)   who work in particularly relevant positions in constitutional institutions, government offices and administrations, the armed forces, police, customs, fire department, disaster management including technical relief services, justice and the administration of justice,
c)   who work in a particularly relevant position abroad at German diplomatic services, for German political foundations or organizations and institutions based in the Federal Republic of Germany in the fields of crisis prevention, stabilization, post-conflict rehabilitation, development cooperation or foreign cultural and educational policy, or as German nationals in international organizations,
d)   who serve as election workers.

5.    People who work in particularly relevant positions in other institutions and companies providing critical infrastructure, particularly pharmacies, pharmaceuticals, funeral services, food sector, water and energy supplies, wastewater and waste management, traffic and transport, information technology and telecommunications.

6.   Healthcare workers with a low risk of exposure to the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, including staff working in laboratories and staff who do not have any contact with patients.

7.    People working in food retail.

8.    People working in childcare, day care, child and youth welfare services and teachers that are not covered by section 3 (1) number 9.

9.    Those with precarious work or living conditions.

According to the German government’s current schedule, people in group 3 should have been offered a vaccine by summer 2021.

Note on vaccinating children

Biontech/Pfizer's Comirnaty mRNA vaccine and Moderna's Spikevax vaccine have been approved in the EU for children 12 years and older. 

Now, the STIKO also recommends general vaccination of children and adolescents aged 12 years and older, with one of the two approved mRNA vaccines. Initially, the vaccination recommendation applied only to children and adolescents at increased risk for severe COVID-19. However, recent scientific data suggest that the benefits of vaccination in terms of direct protection of vaccinated children and adolescents from COVID-19 and associated psychosocial sequelae outweigh the risk for severe vaccine side effects. Vaccination should be preceded by a physician's explanation of the benefits and risks.

Persons 12 years of age and older are already offered vaccination on a universal basis. Children and adolescents who are willing to be vaccinated can be vaccinated by their pediatrician, in vaccination centers or during vaccination campaigns, e.g. in schools. 

Especially those children and adolescents who have an increased risk of severe Covid-19 due to pre-existing conditions can benefit from a Covid-19 vaccination. This includes children and adolescents with the following deseases:

  • Obesity
  • Congenital or acquired immunodeficiency or relevant immunosuppression
  • congenital cyanotic heart defects
  • severe heart failure
  • severe pulmonary hypertension
  • chronic pulmonary disease with persistent limitation of pulmonary function
  • chronic renal insufficiency
  • chronic neurological or neuromuscular diseases
  • malignant tumor diseases
  • trisomy 21
  • syndromal diseases with severe impairment
  • not optimally controlled diabetes mellitus

In addition, according to the STIKO, vaccination of persons between 12 and 17 years of age is recommended if they have contact with persons at high risk for severe Covid-19, who cannot be vaccinated themselves, or who are suspected of having insufficient protection after vaccination (e.g., people on relevant immunosuppressive therapy).

Children can now be vaccinated at immunization centers, as well as at the pediatrician's or family doctor's office. If you have any particular concerns or questions, it may be advisable for you to contact your child's pediatrician, as they know your child or their medical history best. He or she will be happy to advise you and also perform a risk-benefit assessment.

How you will receive your Covid-19 vaccination

Since more vaccines have become available in the meantime, doctors’ practices, private physicians and company doctors have joined the coronavirus vaccination centres and their mobile teams in administering Covid-19 vaccines.

Note: care facilities are working alongside the relevant authorities in the federal states to organise vaccinations at the institution by mobile vaccination teams. Covid-19 vaccinations through in-house company doctors will be coordinated by the individual companies themselves. Your employer will contact you if vaccinations are offered in your company.

1. Appointment and vaccination in vaccination centers

Appointments for vaccination in vaccination centres will be managed by the individual federal states so the process may vary in each German state. An appointment can either by booked on an online platform or by phoning a special phone number. 

The federal states of Berlin, Bremen and Lower Saxony are inviting eligible people for vaccination by post via an official authority, such as health authorities or registry offices.

The patient services website 116117.de operated by the German Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians provides an overview of all the federal states in Germany with their procedures for making appointments.

Note: although priority restrictions were lifted from 7 June, some federal states may continue to prioritise certain groups in the vaccination centres, due to limited supplies of vaccines as well as the fact that many individuals in groups 2 and 3 have not yet been able to get vaccinated. Information on which groups are currently able to get the vaccine in the federal state in question can be found on the patient services website 116117.de operated by the German Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians.

Our tip: the hotlines and online platforms may quickly become overwhelmed as demand increases. The availability of vaccination appointments also depends on the current availability of the vaccines in the respective federal state. When the next vaccine delivery is announced, new appointments will be allocated accordingly. We therefore recommend trying again at different times and on different days if you have difficulty booking an appointment on your first attempt.

2. Appointments and vaccination in medical practices

Priority restrictions for all available vaccines have been lifted across Germany since 7 June, meaning that now anyone can be vaccinated in doctors’ practices.

The practices will regulate the allocation of appointments individually. There will be no central invitation. However, physicians will have the option to target their patients so that prioritization can be adhered to.

Our tip: Ask your practice when it will be able to offer Covid-19 vaccinations and how appointments can be made (e.g., by phone or via a digital booking option), or whether it is possible to put your name on a waiting list.

3. Appointment and vaccination by mobile vaccination teams at home

People requiring care who are not mobile can be vaccinated in their private homes, either by a mobile team operating under the guidance of a vaccination centre or by a doctor on a house call.

We recommend checking with your GP first to find out whether you can be vaccinated at home.

Alternatively, the patient services website 116117.de operated by the German Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians provides an overview of all the federal states in Germany with their procedures for vaccinations in private homes. You can then make an appointment for vaccination at home through the official booking hotline, for example.

You must bring the following documents with you for your Covid-19 vaccination:

  • Personal ID card or other photo ID to prove your age
  • Vaccination record
  • Any other medical documents you may have, e.g. heart disease card, diabetic card, list of medication

Other important documents if priority restrictions continue to be enforced in your federal state even after 7 June 2021 are:

  • Doctor’s certificate for pre-existing medical conditions
  • People who live or are receiving treatment or care in care homes will need a certificate from the relevant institution
  • People who are on the priority list for vaccination because of their occupation need proof from their employer
  • Close contacts of people requiring care and of pregnant women must produce proof of this from the at-risk person or their legal representative

  1. Vaccination advice and explanation of the benefits of immunisation, side effects, start and duration of protection, advice on subsequent and booster vaccinations, recommendations on precautions to be taken post-vaccination.
  2. Examination of symptoms and establishment of medical history to rule out any illnesses and allergies
  3. Administration of vaccine
  4. Follow-up observation for any potential reaction to the vaccine
  5. Issue of vaccine documentation

Vaccination schedule

Four vaccines are currently available: 

The second dose must be given using the same vaccine as the first dose. An exception is made for persons who had received the initial vaccination with Vaxzevria (AstraZeneca); they may be vaccinated with an mRNA vaccine for the second dose if desired. Completion of both doses of the vaccine has priority over the vaccination of new people, which means that vaccination centres and vaccination teams need to put the relevant number of vaccine doses aside for second vaccinations. 

If the period between the first and second dose of the vaccine is exceeded, the series of vaccinations should still be continued rather than started again from the first dose.

Note: At the moment, patients cannot decide for themselves which vaccine will be used for their vaccination. The choice of vaccine is made by the people administering the vaccine according to availability and the regulations in the Covid-19 vaccination plan. These regulations are based on STIKO recommendations, which have been developed as a result of the licensing restrictions for the various vaccines and studies on effectiveness and safety. At present, the plan stipulates the following rules for use of vaccines:

Start and duration of protection

The full protective effect starts approx. one week (Comirnaty) or two weeks (Covid-19 Vaccine Moderna, Covid-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca) after the second dose of the vaccine respectivly two weeks after the single dose of Covid-19 Vaccine Janssen. There is not yet a conclusive answer as to how long this protection will lost.

For the time being, it is also impossible to estimate whether and when a booster vaccination will be required after the initiation vaccination with two doses.

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