For members


Reader question: Can I get a second Covid booster jab in Germany?

The number of Covid infections in Germany is rising. Some people are wondering if they can - or should - get a second booster jab if their previous vaccination was several months ago.

People queue for a Covid vaccination in Stuttgart in winter.
People queue for a Covid vaccination in Stuttgart in winter. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Bernd Weißbrod

In February this year, Germany’s Standing Committee on Vaccination (STIKO) recommended that risk groups get a fourth Covid vaccination – or second booster shot. 

However, because most people got their booster vaccination several months ago, many are wondering if they should get another jab, especially as there’s a fresh resurgence of Covid infections.

Here’s a look at what we know so far, and the official recommendations. 

Who is officially eligible for a second vaccine booster in Germany?

STIKO currently recommends the fourth Covid-19 vaccination for people aged 70 and over, residents in care homes or similar facilities, staff in medical facilities and care institutions, and people with immune deficiencies. 

The government has been pushing for vulnerable groups to get their second jab, especially as Covid cases rise. 

Health Minister Karl Lauterbach recently urged all at-risk groups and people over the age of 60 to get a second booster jab. 

The Local asked the Health Ministry if other groups of people should get the vaccine now. They told us that there was only an official recommendation for risk groups, and that a possible announcement on further jabs for the general population would only come after summer.

“Since it is not yet possible to foresee which variants will be predominant in autumn, the STIKO considers a renewed statement on a possible general second booster vaccination would only make sense after the summer of 2022,” said the Health Ministry spokesman.

However, Lauterbach also recommended in June that everyone get a fourth Covid vaccination if they want it.

“By voluntarily wearing a mask indoors and getting a fourth vaccination, you can make your own summer a lot better,” he told broadcaster ZDF.

Lauterbach said he was offering this advice because of the emergence of the newer Omicron variants BA.4 and BA.5. “Unfortunately, you can get infected with BA.4 and BA.5, even if you were already infected with BA.1 and BA.2,” he said.

READ ALSO: Germany’s planned changes to Covid vaccination status 

How can I get the jab if I want it?

Anecdotally, we’ve heard that some vaccination points are offering a second booster shot to people who want it – even if they don’t fall into one of the risk groups. People in Germany can generally be given a jab if the last injection was more than three months ago. 

We recommend that you talk with your healthcare provider if you are unsure about what to do. Several doctors practices are also offering the Covid-19 jab and will be able to advise patients. 

Isn’t there going to be an Omicron-specific vaccine?

Lauterbach has said that he expects vaccines adapted to the Omicron variant to become available in Germany in September. 

However, on June 30th he urged people – especially risk groups – to get a second booster shot as soon as possible rather than waiting.

He said: “In nursing homes, 70 percent of residents lack a fourth vaccination. It should be done now. It takes too long to wait for adapted vaccines. Current vaccines are very safe and reliably reduce mortality in facilities. Hesitation can be fatal.”

As of July 5th, at least 63.4 million people (76.2 percent of the total population) in Germany have received two Covid vaccinations, and at least 51.3 million people (61.7 percent) have received one or two booster vaccinations, according to official figures. 

READ ALSO: German doctors call for ’empty’ vaccination centres to close

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For members


Reader Question: Can workers in Germany stay home during transport strikes?

With rail transport at a standstill across Germany on Monday, many workers will be wondering what they can do if they can't make it into work.

Reader Question: Can workers in Germany stay home during transport strikes?

Over the past few months, Germany has been hit by what seems like a never-ending wave of public sector strikes. On Monday, the industrial action ramped up, as rail workers’ union EVG and Verdi workers joined forces in a combined ‘mega strike’, paralysing much of the country’s rail network, as well as some bus routes, trams and air traffic.

Those with a long commute may have been left wondering how they’d be able to get to work – if at all. But would German employers see that as a valid reason to stay home? Here’s what you need to know.  

Can I stay at home if there is a strike?

In general, employees in Germany bear the so-called “travel risk”, which means that even if there is a strike, it’s their responsibility to be at work on time.

READ ALSO: Strikes: Do parents in Germany receive a day off work when Kitas close?

However, as many employers are now more flexible regarding working from home following the pandemic, it may be possible to work from home if you discuss the situation with your employer in beforehand. 

If the strike is announced in advance – as with Monday’s strike – you have to ask them about this in advance. If there is a spontaneous strike, you should contact your employer as soon as possible. If you simply show up late without an excuse or don’t go to work, you could be given a warning.

What rules apply in the event of announced strikes?

When strikes are announced in advance, employees have to do everything they can reasonably be expected to do in order to be at work on time.

For strike days, this means getting up earlier, travelling by car or bicycle, carpooling, and planning for traffic jams and detours in advance. If this results in higher costs than on a “normal” workday – for example, for petrol or taxi fare – that is still employee’s responsibility.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: What to expect during Monday’s ‘mega strike’ in Germany

Only in exceptional circumstances can the extra expense or travel time be considered unreasonable: if, for example, people with low incomes have to take long and expensive cab rides to work, it might be okay not to drive to work on strike days.

What rules apply in the event of spontaneous strikes?

Even if there is a spontaneous strike, employees have to make an effort to be at work on time. However, the requirements are not quite as strict and being issued a warning by an employer for showing up late could be considered disproportionate.

Do employees have a right to work from home?

Since the pandemic, working from home has become much more common – but that doesn’t mean that employees have an automatic right to steer clear of the office. 

Nevertheless, if your employers allows it – and you’re able to carry out work from home – this could be a good option on strike days.

An empty train station in Stuttgart.

An empty train station in Stuttgart on the day of a strike. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Julian Rettig

Do employees get paid if they are late because of strikes?

No. The general rule is that you don’t get paid for the time you don’t work as an employee. The exceptions to this rule are sick days and holiday leave and the odd personal occasion such as a wedding or funeral in the immediate family.

However, since a strike affects many other people, it can’t be considered a “personal” reason, so the principle of “no work, no pay” still applies on strike days.

Do children have to go to school when buses and trains are on strike?

Even when buses and trains are on strike, compulsory education generally goes ahead and students are expected to show up to school.

On Monday, however, some federal states have introduced special rules. 

For example, in Bavaria, Baden-Württemberg, Rhineland-Palatinate and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, students can avoid face-to-face classes if they have no alternative means of travel, though they have to inform the school first thing in the morning.

In North Rhine-Westphalia school administrators are supposed to “act with a sense of proportion” if it becomes virtually impossible for students to get to school.

Pupils in Brandenburg can be exempted from compulsory attendance if they have to travel by bus or train.