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Health minister tells Germans to get vaccinated or to get COVID

DW, 23 Nov 2021
German Health Minister Jens Spahn stressed that Germans should get vaccinated, including with booster shots if their first shot was more than six months ago, to reduce the risk of serious illness.

He said the prevalence of the more infectious delta variant made it increasingly difficult for unvaccinated people to avoid infection.

"As is sometimes cynically said, by the end of this winter pretty much everyone in Germany ... will have been vaccinated, recovered or died," Spahn told reporters in Berlin.

"I don't agree with the comment [by Health Minister Jens Spahn] that everyone 'will be either vaccinated, recovered or dead' after this fall or winter, because that would mean that everyone will have come into contact with the virus," Hendrik Streeck, a professor and director of the Institute of Virology at the University of Bonn, told DW today.

He said that the situation was serious at the moment, but that Spahn's assessment did not reflect how the virus travels nor how long the pandemic will last. Streeck: "It moves from social group to social group, and that's why it behaves in natural waves."

"If we don't get a higher rate of vaccination, we will have it next winter and next fall again," Streeck said. "We have to prepare for the long-term and also think about next year."

In regard to a vaccine mandate, he said that if some people's immunity wanes after six months, "that would mean having a mandate to get vaccinated every half year for a very long time. (…) Politicians promised the people there would be no vaccine mandate," so that would "erode trust in the government" at a crucial time.

Looking towards doctors and nurses, "it might happen that if they have a vaccine mandate, that they will just leave their jobs" in the middle of this crisis, Streeck said.

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