Germany’s Approach on Vaccines

Doctor Sibylle Katzenstein spent thousands of hours in her Berlin practice, so she could distribute and vaccinate as many people as fast as possible. However, she still has not received a single dose herself. She says, “It would have been nice if I had at least 10 vaccines in my fridge. It cost me a lot of time and frustration and in the end these people who need it, they didn’t get vaccinated.” She states that Germany’s vaccination distribution is a bureaucratic nightmare, and serious consequences will follow. 

In the beginning of the pandemic, Germany was praised for its handling of the pandemic; they had wide scale testing and a fast response to the virus. Germany’s COVID-19 mortality rate has been low, and still remains low. However, their way of tackling the vaccine distribution was looked down upon. Since December, the month the first shot was administered, Germany only vaccinated 6% of the population. According to CNN, around 5 million received first doses, and 3 million received second doses. 

Part of what contributed to Germany’s slow distribution was that vaccines were given at specific centers and not doctors’ offices. This is very different from the UK, where 30% of the population has received the first dose, because local doctors have been vaccinating people for months. Chancellor Angela Merkel has admitted the flaw, and said by the end of March, doctors’ offices should be able to vaccinate patients. 

The EU’s rollout has been slowed by delays. “Germany is the architect of the European failure because Germany and Merkel were behind pushing for the European process that was a failure from the beginning,” Julian Reichelt, the managing editor of Germany’s largest selling tabloid newspaper Bild, told CNN. He continued, “She wanted to make it all about Europe and her being a great European,” 

STIKO, Germany’s vaccination committee, initially prohibited the use of AstraZeneca shots in older patients. Dr. Uwe Janssens claims that barring the vaccine “really was a mistake” because everyone in Germany lost confidence in the vaccine. Janssens understands why STIKO initially prohibited the vaccine. He continued that if they had gone the other way, there still would have been criticisms. He said, “we didn’t have enough vaccine from the beginning because of the consequences of the shopping tour from the European Union, because they didn’t buy enough.”

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