Vaccinations against coronavirus: headwinds for Kimmich’s vaccination skepticism

Status: 25.10.2021 09:27 a.m.

Football professional Kimmich is waiting with a corona vaccination out of concern about possible long-term consequences. Experts try to dispel such concerns: Side effects are a matter of weeks – not years.

In the debate about corona vaccinations, the national soccer player Joshua Kimmich came into public focus on the weekend. He admitted that he wanted to wait with a vaccination. Now medical professionals in particular are facing possible concerns about vaccination.

The chairman of the Standing Vaccination Commission (STIKO), Thomas Mertens, emphasized in an interview with the dpa news agency that there are not only approval studies for every vaccine that is released for use within the population, but also accompanying studies. They should investigate carefully whether a vaccine could cause serious side effects.

“It is clear that there can be no ten-year observational studies with the use of a vaccine for almost a year,” Mertens admitted with a view to the active ingredients against Covid-19. But it is the same with every other vaccine and new drug. There is a consensus in science that side effects occurring late after a vaccination “do not occur or were an extremely rare rarity”.

And the accompanying studies on the corona vaccines launched on the market had shown “that there were only a few side effects, all of which occurred quite a short time after the vaccination”.

“Side effects occur immediately after the vaccination”

The immunologist Carsten Watzl made a similar statement in the ARD morning magazine. He spoke of a “misunderstanding” that is still “haunted” in the minds of many people:

In other words: I am getting vaccinated now and may have some serious side effects next year. There is no such thing. The side effects of the vaccination always occur immediately after the vaccination, within a few weeks.

The advantage is that many people around the world have already been vaccinated against Covid-19. Science and medicine are now familiar with the side effects and long-term consequences, such as sinus vein thrombosis, myocarditis or allergic reactions. Watzl countered this with the high level of protection against serious illness caused by the pathogen thanks to a vaccination.

Prof. Carsten Watzl, immunologist, on the current corona situation

Morning magazine, 10/25/2021

Kimmich: “You should respect your decision”

Kimmich had justified his decision not to be vaccinated for the time being with concerns about the lack of long-term studies on the possible consequences of a vaccination. In an interview with the television broadcaster Sky, the FC Bayern player distanced himself from groups of “corona deniers or vaccine opponents”. But there are also people who have concerns for various reasons. “You should respect that too, especially as long as you stick to the measures.” He thinks it is a shame that there is “only vaccinated or not vaccinated” on the subject.

No compulsory vaccination for football professionals

His decision in favor of Kimmich does not have any direct professional consequences. Neither the German clubs nor FIFA and UEFA are required to be vaccinated. However, the DFL and FC Bayern officially recommend getting vaccinated.

The Corona requirements in football stadiums, by which visitors must comply, also do not apply to the players in the teams. The DFL’s protection concept for employees and clubs is independent of the stadium operators’ hygiene protection concept for spectators. It is the responsibility of the clubs to implement the DFL concept in cooperation with the responsible authorities.

Football professionals who have not been vaccinated must undergo two weekly PCR tests or foreign antigen tests on all training, game and travel days. In the event of an infection, they would generally have to be in quarantine for longer, which can affect the team’s success.

The outgoing DFL managing director Christian Seifert also pointed out that the players’ decision about a vaccination was in a certain sense also a professional one. “On the one hand, everyone can decide for themselves, but on the other hand, you also have a professional responsibility towards yourself and your body. You just earn money with your body – and even quite a bit,” says Seifert.

The long-time CEO of FC Bayern Munich, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, pointed out in an interview with the TV broadcaster Bild on Kimmich’s public position: “As a role model, but also as a fact, it would be better if he were vaccinated.”

DFL speaks of a 94 percent vaccination rate

How many of the players in German clubs are vaccinated is unclear. The clubs do not have to publish official figures. DFL managing director Seifert spoke of a vaccination rate of 94 percent in all teams.

This would mean that the rate in German football would be significantly higher than in other sports. The ATP, for example, speaks of 65 percent of male tennis professionals who have been vaccinated against Covid-19. But here too there is skepticism about corona vaccines. The Austrian tennis player Dominic Thiem had admitted that he had not yet been vaccinated. He wanted to wait and see whether a dead vaccine would also be available in the near future. Gene-based mRNA vaccines are currently being administered against Covid-19.

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