Pandemic: Lauterbach recommends a fourth corona vaccination even under 60 – politics

The vaccination decision is always a decision between the family doctor and those affected, says SPD Health Minister Lauterbach. Photo: Michael Kappeler/dpa

Because of numerous infections, Minister of Health Lauterbach advises general caution. “Booster” syringes are also to be given more attention. But with his advance, Lauterbach also caused criticism.

Berlin – Federal Minister of Health Karl Lauterbach is promoting second booster vaccinations on a broader front in the Corona summer wave – not only for older people from 60 or 70 years of age. If you want to enjoy the summer without risk of illness, he would also recommend it – “in consultation with the family doctor, of course” – to younger people, the SPD politician told the “Spiegel”. This met with a mixed response among experts. Lauterbach also called for masks to be worn indoors again and emphasized: “We will have a very difficult autumn”. The government is preparing comprehensive measures for this.

Lauterbach explained that with a second “booster” vaccination you have “a completely different level of security”. It significantly reduces the risk of infection for a few months. The risk of contracting Long Covid is also significantly lower, he said in the “Spiegel” interview (Thursday evening) with a view to longer-lasting impairments.

The minister pointed out that for a long time he had been advising a fourth vaccination from the age of 60, “because then mortality can be significantly reduced.” EU specialist authorities had also recently spoken out in favor of a further refresher from the age of 60. The Standing Vaccination Commission (Stiko) has so far only recommended a second booster for those over 70 and some other risk groups.

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Stiko boss Thomas Mertens opposed broad four vaccinations for younger people. He does not know of any data that would justify such advice, he told the “Welt am Sonntag” and added: “I think it’s bad to make medical recommendations under the motto “a lot helps a lot”. Criticism also came from the co-governing FDP. Secretary General Bijan Djir-Sarai tells the “t-online” portal: “In my opinion, Mr. Lauterbach is well advised not to anticipate Stiko’s vaccination recommendations.”

Criticism from the National Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians

The National Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians was also critical. “When it comes to the question of vaccination recommendations, we are clearly guided by the Standing Vaccination Commission,” said Vice President Stephan Hofmeister: “Everyone should stick to it and not push forward unnecessarily.”

The German Foundation for Patient Protection called it unhelpful that the minister anticipated a Stiko recommendation. In principle, one should seek personal medical advice before further vaccinations, said board member Eugen Brysch. Age is not the only thing that matters. “Rather, previous illnesses, individual risks and the immune status must be taken into account.”

Lauterbach said vaccination decisions are always a decision between the doctor and those affected. The Stiko “recommends only in general”. He also advised people over 60 again not to wait for vaccines adapted to newer virus variants. According to the ministry, a first preparation is expected at the beginning of September, and a second preparation at the end of September/beginning of October. According to the RKI, almost 6.2 million people or 7.5 percent of the population now have a second booster vaccination with the fourth injection that is usually necessary. For those over 60, the figure is 21.3 percent.

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Holetschek: Lauterbach has to at watch out for communication

Bavaria’s Health Minister Klaus Holetschek (CSU) said: “It is important to promote booster vaccinations.” Lauterbach’s new initiative could definitely contribute to this. However, he should make sure “that the way he communicates does not unsettle people and annoy the medical profession.” The chairman of the World Medical Association, Frank Ulrich Montgomery, told the newspapers of the Funke media group: “The Minister of Health is right – we should use every opportunity to improve the immune status of the population.” But one should not forget the basic immunization. “Almost a quarter of our population is still not vaccinated.”

Lauterbach said in view of the continued high number of infections, he advises everyone to wear a mask indoors, especially when ventilation is poor. The Robert Koch Institute (RKI) gave the seven-day incidence on Friday as 719.2 – after 720.4 reported new infections per 100,000 inhabitants in seven days the day before and 699.5 a week ago. However, the incidence does not provide a complete picture – mainly because not all infected people do the PCR tests that are included in the statistics. Lauterbach explained with a view to the number of unreported cases, the actual seven-day incidence should be 1400 to 1500. Those are high numbers of cases. “Infestation would be something completely different.”

SPD parliamentary group leader Rolf Mützenich is speeding up the preparations for the time after the summer. “It is important that we prepare ourselves legally for the situation in autumn with a new infection protection law,” he told the German Press Agency. Federal states and municipalities should be allowed to take legally secure protective measures. “I hope we’re still in time.” He pointed out that in the most populous state of North Rhine-Westphalia, about half of the summer holidays are over. The Corona provisions in the Infection Protection Act, which were significantly reduced in spring, expire on September 23. The government is advising on follow-up regulations.

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The RKI generally sees a continued high infection pressure in all age groups, as stated in the weekly report on Thursday evening. The seven-day incidence of the reported cases remained largely unchanged compared to the previous reporting week – “a plateau is emerging,” wrote the institute. However, even if the number of cases remains the same, further increases in serious illnesses, hospitalizations and deaths can be expected.

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