Germany ramps up vaccination campaign, fears new wave of cases

Photo: EPA

German politicians and associations are making great efforts to promote vaccinations against Covid-19, as the new school year draws closer and as interest fades in the jab.

Social Democrat (SPD) chancellor candidate Olaf Scholz, for instance, said people who had already been vaccinated should do more to encourage others to follow suit.

"We have to convince our friends to get vaccinated. This is a matter that touches every one of us," said Scholz, who is also finance minister, in comments to the Funke-Mediengruppe.

Meanwhile, SPD leader Saskia Esken and the German Association of Cities called for vaccination campaigns at schools once the new academic year begins. The dates of school summer holidays differ from one state to the next but in-person teaching begins in the first states next week.

Esken said she supported mobile vaccination teams at schools, in comments to Redaktionsnetzwerk Deutschland (RND).

There are already some plans in place, with school pupils age 12 and above able to be vaccinated at schools by mobile teams in the state of Schleswig-Holstein. In Mecklenburg-Vorpommern officials are also assessing the situation and plan to send mobile vaccination teams to inoculate 16- and 17-year-olds. As for Hamburg  - its plan includes mobile vaccination services for vocational school students.

So far, a good 51% of the German public is fully vaccinated, but scientists say this is not enough to prevent a fourth wave of cases, especially given the more transmissible Delta variant. The pace of vaccination is also slowing, with some half a million doses generally administered on any given day, down from 1.5 million in May and June.

In the meantime, case numbers in Germany are rising, although the seven-day incidence rate of cases per 100,000 people over a week is still low at 15.

Left Party politicians called for other actors to join the campaign, such as trade unions, sports associations, religious communities, clubs and cultural institutions, in a paper seen by RND. The Central Council of Muslims in Germany also called on the faithful to be vaccinated, saying there were no religious reasons to avoid the jab.

"On the contrary, the protection of others against diseases and one's own health integrity are highly valued in Islam," Central Council chairman Aiman Mazyek told RND.

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