German lawmakers today passed a law requiring medical and nursing staff to be vaccinated against Covid-19, the first step in extending compulsory vaccination to the general population, which is expected to take place in Germany early next year.
The bill, which aims to protect particularly vulnerable groups, was approved by a large majority in the Bundestag, where the Social Democrats, environmentalists and liberals have a majority, with 571 votes in favor and 80 against.
From now on, all those working in hospitals, nursing homes and care homes must be vaccinated or treated by Covid-19. The measure also concerns the staff of institutions that receive people with disabilities, day clinics, clinics, rescue services or social training centers.
The bill emphasizes that health professionals have a “special responsibility” because they are “in close and intensive contact with groups of people who are at increased risk of infection and serious or fatal progression of the disease.”
These employees will have until March 15, 2022 to prove their full vaccination, otherwise they will no longer be able to work.
Medical facilities, particularly nursing homes in Saxony-Anhalt and Brandenburg, have been plagued by new coronavirus infections in recent weeks, with a high number of food-related deaths. The chain of infections was started in some cases by an unvaccinated worker, thus starting the discussion about the mandatory nature of vaccination for everyone.
Although data on these occupations remain incomplete, medical and nursing staff are on average more vaccinated (90%) than the general population (69.3%), according to the Robert Koch Institute.
With this decision, Germany is following the example of other European countries, such as Greece, France, Italy or Britain, which have already legislated the mandatory nature of vaccination for medical and nursing staff.
As it is hit by a new strong wave of cases, Germany is considering going further. The new Social Democrat chancellor, Olaf Solz, intends to ask parliament to rule by the end of the year on the mandatory nature of vaccination for all, which, if approved, will take effect in February or March.
In a poll published today, 68% of Germans support the mandatory nature of vaccination for all adults, a percentage that is rising.
Authorities, however, fear that the move could spark anger among those opposed to the ban, which has plagued thousands since the start of the pandemic.
Health Minister Karl Lauterbach today warned Spiegel magazine that fines for those who refuse to be vaccinated are “inevitable”.