Germany is expected to start offering the coronavirus vaccines to everyone who is willing to take them, says Health Minister Jens Spahn.
German Health Minister Jens Spahn said on Thursday that he expected coronavirus vaccinations to be available for all those willing to be vaccinated in Germany by June at the latest.
He told Germany's upper house of parliament that he assumes "that we can lift the prioritization in June." He said he would be happy if it were possible even earlier.
Currently, half of people over 60 in Germany have already been vaccinated at least once, Spahn said, adding that the pace of vaccinations will pick up now, with the number of available vaccines and inclusion of distribution practices increasing. Currently, more than one in five in the population will have received a first vaccination, and by the end of May, that figure will be one in three.
According to the Federal Health Ministry, around 21.6% of the population had received a first dose by Thursday, while 5.7 million people, or 6.9% of Germany, had been fully vaccinated.
"A total of more than 23.6 million doses have been given so far, with 689,000 yesterday, " Spahn wrote on Twitter.
Until now, Germany has been bound by a strict system of priority groups drawn up by the vaccine commission, mostly defined by age. Some German states this week also announced plans to open up the AstraZeneca vaccine to anyone who wants it. Germany has officially recommended that the vaccine only be given to people 60 and older, following concerns over rare blood clotting in younger recipients.
Chancellor Angela Merkel last week received her first dose of AstraZeneca. Thursday's announcement comes as Germany grapples with a rising infection rate, reporting 29,518 new infections in the past 24 hours. The Bundesrat also approved a controversial amendment to the law, which will give Merkel's government some power to impose uniform national virus measures.
The amendment, which sparked protests in Berlin as it was passed in the Bundestag lower house on Wednesday, was signed into law by President Frank-Walter Steinmeier on Thursday.
lc/msh (Reuters, dpa, AFP)