Three states are offering AstraZeneca vaccines to their entire population, which can help people get a shot instantly, regardless of age, as officials try to prevent doses from being wasted.
Germany received nearly six million AstraZeneca cans, but about one million were not used.
Public confidence in the vaccine fell after a Europe-wide back and forth over blood clots, which regulators believe is a very rare side effect that should not stop the use of the vaccine.
The federal states of Bavaria, Saxony and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania are lifting all age priorities for AstraZeneca vaccines so that every willing recipient has a chance.
This includes those under 60 who were told last month that the vaccine is only recommended for older people in Germany.
The new measure is an “offer for people who have no reservations about this vaccine and can take the opportunity to get vaccinated against the coronavirus,” said Harry Glawe, Minister of Health of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania.
“The goal is also that no vaccine should be lying around and that we should make more progress in vaccinating the entire population,” he said.
Younger people in the three states must continue to consult with their doctor before taking the AstraZeneca vaccine.
Doctors âknow their patients wellâ and can decide whether someone under 60 should get the shot, said Bavarian Health Minister Klaus Holetschek.
“Vaccines need to be used up as soon as possible,” he said. “Every vaccination counts.”
EU regulators say the vaccine is effective and that the benefits of preventing Covid-19 outweigh the very low risk of a blood clot.
However, following the blood clot controversy, a YouGov poll found that 55 percent of Germans thought the AstraZeneca vaccine was unsafe.
As in several other European countries, Germany temporarily stopped using the vaccine entirely when reports of blood clots surfaced.
In contrast, public confidence in the vaccine was much higher in the UK, where the AstraZeneca shot was never exposed.
Germany increases vaccinations amid the third wave of Covid-19
When the German authorities tried to increase acceptance, Chancellor Angela Merkel received her first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine last week.
The vaccine pace in Germany improved significantly after GPs started dispensing doses earlier this month.
More than 20 percent of the 83 million German population have now received a protective dose against Covid-19, 6.8 percent a second dose.
However, the majority of the population is still unprotected as a third wave of the disease continues to spread across Germany.
The German Bundestag on Wednesday approved a change in the law that would give the Merkel government more power to impose restrictions on the heads of state and government of the reluctant state governments.
The amended law introduces nationwide restrictions, including school closings and curfews.
The so-called “emergency brake” prescribes strict measures in areas with an infection rate of more than 100 new cases per 100,000 people in the last seven days.
Only one state had an incidence rate below 100 as of Wednesday, while seven exceeded the 165 threshold that will force schools to return to distance learning.
Around 8,000 demonstrators gathered in the German capital when the change was discussed in the Bundestag in Berlin.
According to police, around 150 people were arrested for throwing bottles, assaulting officials and violating virus restrictions.
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