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: March, 25 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

Since the number of available vaccines will be limited to begin with, certain groups of people will be given priority for vaccination. The German Federal Ministry of Health has appointed the Standing Committee on Vaccination at the Robert Koch Institute (STIKO) to organise the schedule of priority. STIKO has worked with the German National Academy of Natural Sciences Leopoldina and the German Ethics Council to develop criteria for prioritising coronavirus vaccinations, which the Germany Federal Ministry of Health has taken into account in its Covid-19 vaccination plan. On 8 March 2021, the priority system for the Covid-19 vaccination plan was adapted on the basis of recently acquired knowledge about the risks for certain groups of people and the newly approved vaccines in Germany.

Three groups of people with different orders of priority have been established:

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.

According to the Covid-19 vaccination plan, further prioritisation may take place within the three groups, if this is required based on knowledge of infection, STIKO recommendations and the status of the epidemic locally.

The order may be deviated from if necessary 

Once the people in groups 1 to 3 have been offered a vaccine and provided that sufficient vaccines are available, people who are not particularly at risk will be eligible for vaccination. The German Federal Ministry of Health expects to have enough vaccines to cover the country’s entire population from the end of summer 2021.

At the moment there is no general advice to cover vaccinations for children. This is because children generally do not suffer from severe cases of Covid-19. In addition, the vaccines currently available in Germany have not been approved for use in children (Comirnaty from Biontech/Pfizer is approved for people over 16, Moderna and Vaxzevria (AstraZeneca) Covid-19 vaccines for those over 18). This is because new vaccines are only tested on children and young people when the studies involving adults do not show any serious side effects. The first studies on the use of vaccines in children and young adults have, however, already begun. Experts will wait until the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine for children have been confirmed before deciding on vaccine recommendations for children and young adults.

If a child belongs to one of the high-risk groups (e.g. due to disability or chronic illness), a consultation with your doctor is recommended. The doctor can then carry out a strict risk assessment to see whether use of the vaccine can be supported even without any official approval for the age group (this is known as “off-label use”).

How you will receive your Covid-19 vaccination

Until the vaccine is available in sufficient quantities and can be handled less sensitively in terms of supply and storage, most vaccinations will take place in special Covid-19 vaccination centres and by mobile teams.

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 Mecklenburg-Vorpommern are inviting eligible people for vaccination by post via an official authority, such as health authorities or registry offices. We are not aware of any invitation processes in any other states.

On the patient services website 116117.de operated by the German Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians (Kassenärztliche Bundesvereinigung), you will find an overview of all the federal states in Germany with their procedures for making appointments, as well as information on which groups of people can currently get a vaccine in the state.

Note: Care facilities are working alongside the relevant authorities in the federal states to organise vaccinations at the institution by mobile vaccination teams. People requiring care who are not mobile and are part of the first priority group cannot currently be vaccinated by mobile teams in private homes. This will be possible as soon as less sensitive vaccines that are easier to transport become available.

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
  • Doctor’s certificate for existing medical conditions (only relevant for group 2)
  • 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 pregnant women must produce proof from the high-risk person or their legal representative to confirm that they are contact people (only relevant for group 2).

  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 “Comirnaty” (Biontech/Pfizer) vaccine, the “Covid-19 Vaccine Moderna" (Moderna), the “Covid-19 Vaccine Vaxzevria (AstraZeneca)” (AstraZeneca) and the "Covid-19 Vaccine Janssen" (Janssen / Johnson & Johnson) vaccines.

The second dose must be given using the same vaccine as the first dose. 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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