July 26, 2021

Germany opens vaccination to over 12s

On May 17, Germany announced that all people over 16 could apply to be vaccinated against Covid-19 from June 7. Ten days later, she revised her ambitions upwards. After a four-hour videoconference with the heads of the country’s 16 Länder, Angela Merkel said Thursday, May 27, that it would finally be possible to get vaccinated from the age of 12 from the 7th June.

This imminent opening of vaccination to 12-15 year olds does not mean that they will have priority over the rest of the population. “Due to the limited quantities of vaccines available, there will be no specific appointments for this age group in the short term”, warned the Chancellor, adding that the return to normal schooling, after the summer vacation, would not be conditional on the number of students who will have been vaccinated by then.

Authorize without imposing, allow without constraining: Angela Merkel’s announcements are the result of a subtle compromise. On the one hand, the German authorities want to show that they are doing everything to speed up the vaccination campaign in the hope of making people forget the difficult beginnings of it. On the other hand, they want to avoid giving arguments to those who reproach them for a voluntarism that is risky from a medical point of view and adventurous from a logistical point of view.

Lack of precise data

This is the case of the vaccine commission (Stiko) of the Robert-Koch Institute of Public Health. Although it has not yet published an official opinion concerning the vaccination of 12-15 year olds, several of its members have already expressed their reservations on this subject, citing in particular a lack of precise data on the possible side effects of vaccines. in this age group. Like the Berlin pediatrician Martin Terhardt, for whom “The knowledge of the risks is not clear enough at this stage to recommend a general vaccination of 12-15 year olds”. Within Stiko, several voices have been expressed in recent days to advocate immunizing only young people with chronic diseases.

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This is not the first time that the German government has come up against scientists tasked with advising it on vaccine policy. In mid-May, the latter had already been very critical of the idea of ​​offering the AstraZeneca vaccine to all adults, regardless of their age, profession or state of health, and no longer just to people over 60 years, as was the case until then. At the time, Mme Merkel had ignored it, preferring to satisfy a public opinion eager to be vaccinated as soon as possible rather than to please experts attached to the precautionary principle.

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