Corona pandemic: chargeable tests – higher vaccination rate?

Status: 10/22/2021 8:21 am

Those who could get vaccinated but don’t do so have had to pay for corona tests since October 11th. In this way, the willingness to vaccinate should also be increased. But does it work?

The queue in front of the vaccination bus at Stuttgart’s Feuersee winds once around the Johanneskirche. Hundreds of people wait, many for hours. Some come for a second vaccination that they couldn’t manage while the vaccination centers were still open.

Others have only now made their way through to the first vaccination. Many of them because they feel pressured. “I’m not here because of the disease, but because of the restrictions that you have when you are not vaccinated,” says Tom Martin, referring to the tests that are subject to a fee, for example. “It is quite possible that 2G will soon apply everywhere,” fears Eva Eckstein. “Then I can’t go anywhere even with a test.” At first glance, it seems that the Federal Government’s calculation is working: The freedom through testing is becoming more expensive and thus the interest in vaccination is greater.

No clear trend yet

In the Stuttgart area, the willingness to vaccinate has actually increased – but only in the second week after the introduction of the chargeable tests and only slightly. The fact that there are now often long queues in front of the mobile vaccination stations has to be seen against the background that the large vaccination centers have been closed since October. The Stuttgart Clinic is responsible for the mobile vaccination offers around Stuttgart. “We hope that in the long term we can at least stop the downward trend in primary vaccinations,” says the clinic’s board member, Jan Steffen Jürgensen. “But the sober numbers across Germany do not yet provide that.”

Nationwide, the number of first vaccinations has been falling continuously since mid-September – by between 16 and 24 percent on a weekly basis. Even after the introduction of the chargeable tests, the number continued to decrease, but only by twelve percent. With so little change and after such a short period of time, one cannot speak of a new trend.

More supply than demand

“It is important that our mobile vaccination stations are actually a low-threshold offer,” says Andreas Ruf, who coordinates vaccination campaigns around the city at the Karlsruhe Clinic. “It is true that there are overall more vaccination doses available than there is in demand. But we always had to send people home when the rush was particularly large.” Then people were referred to the next day. But with that you risk the fickle ones not coming back. In order to prevent this from happening, Stuttgart now wants to expand the offer. Instead of the previous four vaccination buses, there are now five vehicles on the road.

Test centers hardly profitable anymore

Even if it is still unclear whether more people will be vaccinated, the test stations are already seeing dramatic effects. The demand for corona tests has plummeted in some places by up to 90 percent since most have had to pay for them. Many test centers had to close. In Baden-Württemberg, only 1388 are left of the original 2800. It has also become quieter in the test container in front of the central pharmacy in Karlsruhe. “We have already closed four of our six test sites,” explains pharmacist Hendrik Rohde. “Nevertheless, we will still have to save on staff, otherwise we will add more financially.” Rohde therefore wants to limit the opening times on Sundays and public holidays.

Most of those who come here to test need the certificate for a visit to the cinema or restaurant. Some have other reasons. A woman needs the test for a trip. A student is only allowed to attend the classroom lecture and criticize the fact that there are no free tests for university operations. A young mother does not want to be vaccinated because she is still breastfeeding her baby. A test is currently free for them. The young woman wants to make absolutely sure that her child will not be harmed by a vaccination. You meet many vaccine skeptics here – and one very tough opponent of vaccinations. “I believe that we as humans have the genes that we can defend ourselves against viruses,” she is convinced.

“Anyone who has not yet been vaccinated is doing it for ideological reasons,” says Andreas Bobrowski from the Association of German Laboratory Doctors. He is therefore critical of the cost of the tests. “Many of these people then save themselves the tests altogether.” It is conceivable that the incidences are now falling – but possibly not because more people were vaccinated, but because fewer people were being tested and infections went so undetected.

End of the free citizen tests

Birthe Sönnichsen, ARD Berlin, 10/11/2021 8:30 a.m.

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