Corona: Nurses and doctors no longer need vaccination – politics

Federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach is moving away from the institution-related vaccination requirement. This was announced on Monday from those close to the ministry. Lauterbach now considers the regulation, which obliges the staff of health and nursing facilities to be vaccinated against the corona virus, to be “not worth continuing” and “hardly justifiable from a medical point of view,” it said. It will therefore expire on December 31st.

The vaccination requirement was part of the first package of measures against the pandemic that the traffic light government passed after it took office last December. It came into force in mid-March this year and actually stipulated that unvaccinated staff could only have access to patients in exceptional cases. This should minimize the risk for particularly vulnerable groups of people. However, implementation of the scheme went poorly from the start.

Controls were slow to take place, and in Saxony a third of the nursing staff is said to have not been vaccinated to this day. Some countries – and also the coalition partner FDP – have been calling for a long time not to extend the vaccination requirement beyond the end of the year. However, the Federal Minister of Health did not want to commit himself to this question for a long time, and when asked in the past few weeks, he has repeatedly referred to the further development of the pandemic, which we have to wait and see – until now.

The number of cases is lower than forecast by the minister

The fact that Lauterbach is distancing itself from the obligation to vaccinate is probably not only due to the resistance of the federal states and liberals, but above all to the fact that the vaccination does not protect against the transmission of the virus to a relevant extent with the corona variants currently circulating. In addition, the number of cases is still lower than forecast by the minister.

Lauterbach had repeatedly warned of imminent corona waves, but so far there has been neither the severe summer wave nor the autumn wave he had predicted. For the SPD minister, this is doubly tricky politically: On the one hand, incorrect forecasts are not conducive to his credibility. Secondly, in a calm corona situation, Lauterbach has no opportunity to prove that he can manage the pandemic better than his predecessor Jens Spahn (CDU) or than his counterparts in other countries.

But that was precisely his central political promise. The popularity that he had developed as a corona expert among large parts of the population was decisive for his appointment to the head of the Federal Ministry of Health.

Most recently, Lauterbach repeatedly warned of a possible winter wave. The Federal Ministry of Health is particularly concerned about a new virus variant: According to initial findings, BQ.1.1 spreads particularly easily, and all antiviral drugs used to date to treat patients with this variant apparently fizzle out without any relevant effect. The risk therefore seems to be higher for older people or those who have previously been ill, who are more likely to have a severe course of the disease if they become infected.

Vaccination centers should receive less money

Nevertheless, the ministry is said to be preparing further steps that would be more in line with a further dwindling infection rate: the financing of the vaccination centers is apparently to be reduced. In the future, the doctor’s surgeries should be sufficient to carry out vaccinations – a clear sign that Lauterbach’s house does not expect that vaccinations could increase again massively this winter.

Lauterbach had ordered several vaccine variants in very large quantities months ago in order to be able to react to different virus variants and, if necessary, to be able to vaccinate the population quickly. The fact that this will be necessary is now apparently classified as unlikely. Changes are also being prepared for the test offer. The Ministry of Health announced on Monday evening that funding for citizen tests was secured until the end of February.

However, the minister wants to maintain other preventive measures. Nothing should change in the mask requirement on buses and trains over the winter. The Federal Ministry of Health also does not want to support an end to the obligation to isolate people infected with corona. However, the decision on this is a matter for the federal states: Bavaria, Hesse, Baden-Württemberg and Schleswig-Holstein have already abolished the obligation to isolate or decided to abolish it.

At the weekend, the FDP spoke out in the person of its health spokesman Andrew Ullmann in favor of abolishing the obligation to isolate nationwide – sick people should take sick leave and stay at home, government orders are no longer required.

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