German civic leaders call for stronger push on vaccination

·2-min read
COVID-19 vaccination in the Cologne Cathedral, Germany

BERLIN (Reuters) -German towns have appealed to authorities for less "flying by the seat of your pants" and more "forward-thinking," as the country looks likely to miss its vaccination target for January.

Local leaders have described the vaccine rollout as chaotic, complaining of a lack of communication about when and how much vaccine they would receive, which made it difficult to plan.

The complaints came as the government considered a proposal to further tighten restrictions on going out and gathering socially for those who have not yet received a booster shot.

Germany has a low rate of vaccination compared with some other western European countries: 71.5% of the population is fully vaccinated and 40.9% have received a booster shot.

"Overall, one principle must apply: Less flying by the seat of your pants and more forward-thinking planning," Gerd Landsberg, head of the German Association of Towns and Municipalities, told the RedaktionsNetzwerk Deutschland media group in a Thursday print interview.

The government aims for 80% of the population to have had at least one shot by the end of January, a target it will miss if the rate of first-time vaccinations continues at the current pace. So far, the number stands at 74.4%.

A draft circulated ahead of Friday's meeting of national and regional leaders to agree further measures on tackling the pandemic proposed that those who had only received two shots of the vaccine would have to show a same-day negative test result before entering bars or restaurant.

To encourage further take-up, the draft also proposed exempting those who had received a booster shot from the need to self-isolate for 14 days after contact with someone who tested positive for highly contagious Omicron variant

"Immunity granted by first and second vaccine shots is limited with the Omicron variant," the draft said. "This means even those who have had two shots will fall ill."

The Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious disease reported 64,340 new coronavirus infections on Thursday, bringing the total number to more than 7.36 million. The death toll grew by 443, to reach 113,368.

(Reporting by Miranda Murray, Holger Hansen, Thomas Escritt; Editing by Alexandra Hudson)

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