Frustrated German towns urge leaders to plan for fourth COVID dose

COVID-19 vaccination in the Cologne Cathedral, Germany
FILE PHOTO: People queue to receive a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine during a vaccination event in the Cologne Cathedral on Christmas Eve amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic in Cologne, Germany, December 24, 2021. REUTERS/Thilo Schmuelgen

January 6, 2022

BERLIN (Reuters) – German towns have appealed to authorities for less “flying by the seat of your pants” and more “forward-thinking planning,” 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.

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.

Gerd Landsberg, chief executive of the German Association of Towns and Municipalities, said he wanted to see plans for a fourth dose of vaccine that would include additional vaccination centres and a prioritisation scheme when federal and state leaders meet on Friday.

“Overall, one principle must apply: Less flying by the seat of your pants and more forward-thinking planning,” he told the RedaktionsNetzwerk Deutschland media group in a print interview.

The government has said that it 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%.

German leaders are set to discuss how to respond to the highly contagious Omicron variant, including shortening COVID-19 self-isolation periods over fears that critical services could grind to a halt as it takes hold.

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.

According to the preliminary findings of an Israeli study, a fourth dose of COVID-19 vaccine boosts antibodies five-fold a week after it’s administered.

French Prime Minister Jean Castex said on Thursday that France was ready to begin deploying a fourth shot as soon as health authorities gave the green light.

(Reporting by Miranda Murray; Editing by Alexandra Hudson)

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