First initiative for compulsory vaccination from the age of 18

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Seven traffic light deputies are calling for compulsory vaccination for everyone over the age of 18. © Bernd von Jutrczenka/dpa

The omicron variant is spreading rapidly – but what does that mean for the fight against the pandemic? This must be clarified by the next federal-state round. Something is happening on another issue.

Berlin – In the midst of an ever-increasing wave of infections, there is movement in the debate about general corona vaccination in Germany.

On Friday, seven MPs from the SPD, FDP and Greens coalition groups launched a first concrete initiative for an obligation from the age of 18, which is intended to provide more protection in autumn and winter. They want to draw up a draft for this after the orientation debate planned for this Wednesday in Parliament. Before federal and state consultations this Monday, how to deal with the omicron virus variant, which is spreading rapidly, will be discussed.

The group of seven announced the push for compulsory vaccination in a letter that went to MPs from all parliamentary groups except for the AfD. It is about “finding a sustainable, proportionate and at the same time targeted solution,” says the letter that is available to the German Press Agency.

Preparation for fall and winter

The main motivation is to be prepared in the long term with a view to autumn and winter and to prevent the health system from being overloaded in future waves of infection. Vaccination is safe, effective and the best way to overcome the pandemic. “By increasing the vaccination rate, we protect our healthcare system from permanent overload and avoid restrictions on public life.”

The letter is signed by the SPD deputies Dirk Wiese, Heike Baehrens and Dagmar Schmidt, the Greens Janosch Dahmen and Till Steffen as well as Katrin Helling-Plahr and Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann from the FDP. They emphasize: “On this important issue, we are expressly open and cross-party, because we want to bring about a democratic consensus for the best possible solution.” They invite other MPs to support them.

Faction compulsion falls

According to the plans of the coalition, the Bundestag should decide in an open vote without the usual parliamentary group specifications – according to the SPD by March at the latest. So far, there is only one draft by a group led by FDP Vice Wolfgang Kubicki, who speaks out against compulsory vaccination. In the left-wing faction there is currently almost no one who says “I’m definitely in favor of it” because there are still too many question marks, said parliamentary group leader Dietmar Bartsch. The Union criticizes the general approach of the coalition that proposals should be made by Parliament. She insists that the federal government submit its own draft law.

Several points are being discussed before Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) and the prime ministers have another round of corona talks this Monday. In addition to an announced prioritization of more precise PCR laboratory tests, a further concentration of contact tracing on important social areas is being considered, as a spokesman for Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) said.

Hundreds of thousands of infections expected

The background is an expected further increase in the number of infections. Lauterbach had made it clear that there should be several hundred thousand new infections per day in mid-February. “We have to reckon with these increasing numbers of infections and have to adapt to them organizationally,” said his spokesman. Changed quarantine and test rules ensured that public life could still take place safely, especially in important supply areas. Experts expect that the “omicron wall” will only reach the hospitals after two weeks at the earliest.

The seven-day incidence reported by the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) exceeded the threshold of 700 for the first time. The RKI gave the value of new infections per 100,000 inhabitants and week on Friday morning as 706.3. The health authorities reported 140,160 new cases within one day, and a further 170 deaths were registered nationwide.

Voices from Bavaria against tightening

Voices came from the countries to refrain from new, more drastic restrictions. Bavaria’s Prime Minister Markus Söder (CSU) said in Munich: “It doesn’t make sense to tighten up now.” It must be observed with a sense of proportion to what extent the omicron wave is affecting the burden on the health system. On the other hand, there is no reason to completely do without corona management, as is the case in Great Britain, for example. However, depending on the situation, there could be some relief. For Bavaria, he announced possible relaxations for the admission of spectators to professional sports and for children and young people to work in the afternoon.

Lower Saxony’s Prime Minister Stephan Weil (SPD) said on ARD that the number of infections was high, but the clinics were currently less burdened. “We are dealing with a new opponent, so you have to adapt your strategy in this respect.” Weil spoke out clearly against a so-called contamination. This is cynical and means many will end up in intensive care units and die. At the same time, he opposed a “total lockdown”.

Almost half of the population in Germany has now received a booster vaccination. According to the RKI, 41.2 million vaccinated people or 49.6 percent of all residents now have a reinforcing “booster”. dpa

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