Germany hits goal in push for 30 million new vaccine shots

Health Watch

A man wearing a face mask crosses railroad tracks near a tram station in Frankfurt, Germany, early Sunday, Dec. 26, 2021. (Photo/Michael Probst)

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — Germany has reached its goal of 30 million additional immunizations against COVID-19 by year’s end, a push aimed at re-energizing a lagging vaccination campaign and countering a resurgence in COVID-19 infections.

Health Minister Karl Lauterbach said the 30-million mark was passed on Sunday, the dpa news agency reported.

“We have reached an important milestone,” Lauterbach was quoted as saying. “We can be proud of that.”

Of the added shots, 25 million were boosters and 5 million were first- or second-time vaccinations.

The goal was set Nov. 18 — even before new Chancellor Olaf Scholz was sworn on Dec. 8 — to counter surging daily case numbers caused by the delta variant after the pace of immunizations had slowed since the summer. The goal took on more urgency after the highly contagious omicron variant was reported and began sweeping across Europe.

Daily case numbers have fallen recently in Germany but officials warn that omicron could quickly send them higher.

Germany’s vaccination effort has had its ups and down. The early months of 2021 were marked by not enough vaccine shots, which left the pace well behind vaccination efforts in the U.S. and the U.K. The tempo caught up during the spring and early summer, then slowed down again in the fall as case numbers fell.

Currently demand for boosters against omicron and government restrictions on unvaccinated people entering stores, restaurants and transport has seen the pace pick up again, hitting a daily record of 1.6 million on Dec. 15.

Still, the German government has had to postpone another goal, that of immunizing 80% of its population, to the end of January from Jan. 7. Currently 58.9 million people are fully vaccinated, or 70.8% of the population, according to dpa. The federal disease control agency, the Robert Koch Institute, said the actual number of those vaccinated could be up to 5% higher due to gaps in reporting.

Germany has recommended vaccination for all 12-to-17-year-olds and for children aged 5-11 year with pre-existing health issues. Children 5-to-11 without pre-existing conditions can be vaccinated if their parents wish.

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