“Booster” against Corona: Third vaccination – who should, who can?


Status: 01.11.2021 4:40 p.m.

Rising numbers of corona cases are fueling the debate about booster vaccinations. What is the use of the “Booster” dose? Who is it useful for? And where are they? Answers to important questions at a glance.

What is the corona situation like?

The number of infections is rising sharply again, but the number of people who have been vaccinated is hardly any longer. Most of the 400 vaccination centers have been closed since September, there is no stringent vaccination campaign – neither for first or second vaccinations nor for booster vaccinations. Two thirds of the population are now fully vaccinated. In order to be able to contain the pandemic, according to the RKI, a vaccination rate of 85 to 90 percent would be necessary for those over twelve – supplemented by booster vaccinations to counter the declining effect.

However, fewer people perceive booster vaccinations than they could. So far, fewer than two million people have been vaccinated for the third time. This may also be due to the fact that there is a confusing polyphony when it comes to “booster” vaccinations, which makes things even more insecure. Who can, who should, who may – a clear line can hardly be made out.

Why a third vaccination?

Over time, the vaccination protection decreases. How long the effect lasts depends on many factors, including the type of vaccination, immune reaction and age. Data from the UK and Israel show vaccination protection is declining more in the elderly. Furthermore, a British study had shown that the likelihood of getting sick despite being vaccinated increases the longer it has been since immunization.

Researchers set in Israel a study before, according to which a booster vaccination against Covid-19 offers older people significantly higher protection against infection and serious illness. A third vaccination is therefore medically sensible for the elderly and for people from other risk groups, emphasizes the Berlin infectiologist Leif Erik Sander. At the end of July, Israel was the first country in the world to start third-party vaccinations, and the number of infections has been falling significantly since the beginning of September.

What does refreshment mean?

With a so-called booster (amplifier), fully vaccinated people receive another dose of an approved vaccine against Covid-19. The Standing Vaccination Commission (Stiko) recommends an mRNA vaccine regardless of which vaccine was previously injected. In the best case, it is the same one that was already used for the basic immunization, for example vaccines from the manufacturers Pfizer / BioNTech and Moderna. Each booster generally strengthens the immune system again against Sars-CoV-2.

Who should be “boosted”?

The Stiko generally has the booster vaccination for people at the beginning of October from 70 years, as well as recommended for residents and staff in nursing homes and old people’s homes. The Conference of Health Ministers generally recommends boosting from 60 years.

However, it is legally binding Vaccination ordinance of the Federal Ministry of Health. Accordingly, everyone has the right to a booster vaccination, the at least twelve years is old and has his place of residence or habitual abode in Germany. You are also entitled to a reimbursement of the costs incurred, writes the Ministry of Health. It is particularly recommended for the elderly and home residents, among others, usually six months after the primary vaccination. Even minister Spahn called on all people aged twelve and over to be vaccinated a third time.

Bavaria’s Prime Minister Markus Söder also says: “We need the booster vaccinations not only for those over 70, but for everyone.”

However, Stiko has not yet made an explicit recommendation for everyone. Also on request from tagesschau.de The commission remained vague: “Similar” to flu vaccinations, it is possible for everyone to be vaccinated against Covid-19 for a third time regardless of the Stiko recommendation, according to Stiko boss Thomas Mertens.

Who can be “boosted”?

Theoretically all people from the age of twelve. According to Spahn, there is sufficient vaccine in Germany. The Executive Chancellor said: Nobody was prevented from getting a booster vaccination. “In any case, we have to do something that the third vaccination takes place,” said Angela Merkel.

To “boost” to the family doctor?

It’s not that easy. So far, the practices have not offered nationwide third-party vaccinations. Medical representatives refer to the Stiko. If this extended their recommendation, the general practitioners would also vaccinate these groups of people, announced medical president Klaus Reinhardt on the weekend in the RND. He does not consider booster vaccinations for everyone to be sensible: “There is not yet sufficient scientific evidence for this.” Statutory health insurance chief Andreas Gassen warned against “blind actionism”.

The General Practitioners Association also criticized Spahn’s call for boosters for everyone. “The family doctors follow the recommendation of the Standing Vaccination Commission, and this currently recommends third vaccinations only for over 70-year-olds and a few other groups,” said board member Armin Beck of the editorial network Germany.

If in doubt, those willing to vaccinate should ask their family doctor for an appointment. The Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians asked for a little patience. Due to the emerging wave of infections, the doctors are busy, said a spokesman. The practices are not vaccination centers.

Does the “booster” time also depend on the vaccine?

Yes. Stiko recommends that all people who have received the vaccine from Johnson & Johnson improve their protection with a dose of mRNA vaccine – from four weeks after the single vaccination. The reason given by the Stiko is the “comparatively low vaccine effectiveness” of the preparation compared to the Delta variant. Individuals who received their first series of vaccinations with the AstraZeneca vector vaccine will be offered a booster dose of an mRNA vaccine six months after the primary series. The same applies to people who have been vaccinated with Moderna or BioNTech.

Discussion about the reopening of the vaccination centers

Nadine Bader, ARD Berlin, Tagesschau 2:00 p.m., November 1, 2021

Is there a “booster” campaign?

Not yet. Specific written invitations to all older people are also not sent nationwide. “We would now need a big campaign for six to eight weeks like at the beginning of the year, with vaccination centers and mobile vaccination teams,” demanded vaccine researcher Sander from the Berlin Charité. SPD health politician Karl Lauterbach made a similar statement on Twitter.

Health Minister Spahn surprised the federal states by calling for the vaccination centers to be reactivated. Many doctors and politicians dismissed this as impractical and too expensive. The topic should also come up at the health ministers’ conference at the end of the week.


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