Germany’s GPs begin vaccinating patients against Covid-19

For the first time in Germany's vaccination programme, family doctors are allowed to administer jabs.

Germany's GPs begin vaccinating patients against Covid-19
A doctor in Pforzheim, Baden-Württemberg, talking to a patient about the Covid-19 vaccine on March 30th. Photo: DPA

After the painfully slow start to the inoculation campaign in Germany, a new stage is beginning this week: 35,000 GPs nationwide are planning to give residents vaccinations against coronavirus.

Some practices were due to start on Tuesday April 6th, while others are still waiting for vaccine doses and want to follow in the next few days.

Since the start of the rollout at the end of December, injections have so far been administered mainly in the 430 vaccination centres nationwide.

READ ALSO: Germany to make vaccines available at GP practices: What you need to know

Initially, only a small supply of doses is available to family doctors. In the first week, all practices together will receive 940,000 vaccine doses a week.

In purely mathematical terms, that is about 26 doses per practice per week. In the week of April 26th, however, there will be a significant boost to resources – and at that point GPs can expect a total of more than three million doses each week.

READ ALSO: GPs in Germany call for vaccines to be given according to health not age

How will vaccinating work at GPs?

GP practices have to follow the fixed priority order of who can be vaccinated first in Germany.

READ ALSO: When will I be in line for a Covid-19 vaccination?

There is no central invitation programme for vaccinating patients, according to the federal Health Ministry. The practices can regulate how they allocate vaccination appointments themselves – for example by phone or with online bookings.

Some family doctors have been vaccinating for some time as part of pilot projects – and in Bavaria jabs by GPs started last week in 1,635 practices.

Calls to speed up vaccine campaign

This weeks marks the second quarter the vaccination campaign when more Covid vaccines are expected after scarce supplies in the first quarter of the year.

The Association of Private Health Insurers (Verband der Privaten Krankenversicherung, PKV) is calling on the federal government to quickly push ahead with vaccines.

“The start of the vaccination campaign, also through GP practices, is the right step, but it is not enough to get the coronavirus vaccine to as many people as possible as quickly as at all possible,” association director Florian Reuther told DPA.

“Already at this stage politicians must prepare the next step and make vaccination possible in companies and with all other groups of doctors and dentists as soon as vaccine supplies increase as expected in the next few weeks.”

Health Minister Jens Spahn (CDU) had said at the end of March that company doctors should only join the vaccination campaign after GPs.

READ ALSO: Germany’s Health Minister promises more freedom to those fully vaccinated

“There is still too little,” Spahn said of the available doses. He said he found it difficult to vaccinate younger employees of companies as long as the older ones were not yet protected.

But Reuther said the infrastructure of company doctors was particularly suitable. “We already have numerous requests from health insurance companies whose company doctors are immediately available to vaccinate their work forces – but unfortunately are not allowed to order vaccine at the moment,” he said.

Many companies had also offered to vaccinate employees’ family members as well. In Reuther’s view, this would also make sense. He called on the federal government to solve the necessary organisational issues now – “and not only when the vaccines are piling up in the yard”.

READ ALSO: Vaccination centres in some German states ‘to close over Easter


GPs/general practitioners – (die) Hausärzte (or der Hausarzt as singular)

Surgeries/practices- (die) Praxen (or die Praxis as singular)

Vaccination centres – (die) Impfzentren

Vaccination appointment (der) Impftermin

Company doctor/in-house doctor – (der) Betriebsarzt

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Vaccine scramble: How Spaniards want Covid jabs more than other Europeans

Whilst the EU warns that unused doses due to vaccine scepticism are piling up, Spaniards of all ages want to achieve immunity against Covid-19 as soon as possible, the data shows. 

Vaccine scramble: How Spaniards want Covid jabs more than other Europeans
People queue to get the vaccine in Barcelona. Photo: Lluis Gené/AFP

In Spain, where the Covid-19 rollout has gone from one of the slowest in the EU to currently one of the fastest, pretty much everyone wants to get vaccinated. 

With priority groups almost fully immunised, Spain is still beating daily records with 600,000 to 700,000 doses administered every day. 

The spike in cases among the country’s young population has led several regions to bring forward jabs for teens and twenty-somethings ahead of people in their thirties.

Despite the apparent lack of concern for the pandemic witnessed  in packed squares and streets over the past weeks, young people who have been able to take advantage of the vaccine offer have headed en masse to the vaccination centres. 

When an Asturian youth called Ana Santos told a local newspaper that “after the elderly, it should be our turn to get vaccinated as it’s not as if people in their forties go out, is it?”, her comments went down like a tonne of bricks among this age group, who demanded it was their turn to reach full immunisation first. 

Vaccine scepticism hasn’t been a problem for Spain as it has been for other countries, with President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen launching a warning recently that vaccine supplies are piling up, even though Brussels has reached its target of providing enough doses to fully vaccinate 70 percent of EU adults.

“If we look at the statistics, more and more doses remain unused,” von der Leyen told journalists in Strasbourg.

“This is linked to the fact that there is a greater distribution of vaccines, but in part also due to doubts about vaccination,” adding that it was crucial to reach the most sceptical parts of the population” in the face of the “worrying” presence of the Delta variant.

“Traditionally in Spain, we have had much less resistance or rejection towards vaccines, that’s always been the case,” vaccine expert at the Spanish Association of Pediatrics (AEP) Ángel Hernández-Merino told 20minutos. 

“In any vaccination programme, it’s vital to count on the population being willing to accept the vaccination”.

A June 2021 Eurobarometer study found that 49 percent of people in Spain want to get vaccinated “as soon as possible”, the highest rate in the entire EU (32 percent EU average). 

Whereas an average of 9 percent of EU citizens don’t ever want to get vaccinated, the rate in Spain is 4 percent.  Around 63 percent of Spaniards told Eurobarometer that they couldn’t understand why people are hesitant to get vaccinated and 71 percent said Covid vaccines are the only way for the pandemic to end. 

In Belgium, around a third of the population doesn’t want to get vaccinated.

In other countries where in the earlier stages of the Covid vaccination campaign it seemed  that available doses were easily used up it’s now becoming evident that sprinting through the age groups doesn’t guarantee that everyone is being vaccinated. 

Germany, the UK and the US, all seen as examples to Spain of how to quickly immunise a population, have all seen their campaigns slow down due to hesitancy and the summer holidays.

Spain’s Health Ministry doesn’t give data on how many people have rejected the vaccine and why, but stats do show that already more than half of the population (57.5 percent) have at least one dose and 43.3 percent are fully vaccinated. 

The Spanish government has stuck to its objective of vaccinating 70 percent of the country’s 47 million people before the end of August, even though it did fall short of its June target by more than half a million doses. 

Rather than vaccine scepticism, what’s been holding up Spain’s inoculation campaign have been doubts over the administration of second AstraZeneca vaccines and the decision to keep a reserve in case the country experienced delivery setbacks as it has in the past, with 2.9 million doses in storage reported in late June.