The coronavirus vaccine
Everything you need to know, from vaccine development to clinical use.
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Vaccinations statistics for Germany
Select a state from the dropdown menu to see how many people have received their first coronavirus vaccine.
Vaccination rates in Europe
Find out how many people have been vaccinated against coronavirus in European countries.
Data source: interaktiv.morgenpost.de.
When can I get the coronavirus vaccine?
Germany has been administering the BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine since its approval on December 27, 2020. Since then, several other vaccines have been and are being approved. After initially prioritizing vaccination by risk groups, Germany has now offered every adult the opportunity to get vaccinated.
STIKO now recommends booster shots after the second vaccination. Risk groups should continue to be given priority. Children are also increasingly being included in the STIKO's vaccination recommendations.
Furthermore, the EU Commission declared at the end of December 2021 that vaccination certificates will only be valid in the EU for nine months if not followed by a booster shot. This regulation will come into force on February 1, 2022 if not vetoed by any of the EU member states.
It remains important to follow all recommendations from local authorities on hygiene measures and social distancing.
Important vaccine news and studies
It is true that the Coronavirus vaccines have now been in use for many months. Nevertheless, new scientific studies emerge on a regular basis which are groundbreaking for the assessment and evaluation of the various vaccines. This is because new virus variants in particular can continuously change the facts.
Here you will find an overview of the most important study results:
Study: How contagious are vaccinated Persons?
Vaccinated people have a lower risk of contracting COVID-19 than unvaccinated people. However, when vaccinated people become infected, they are similarly contagious as unvaccinated people are to other people. The viral load in the throat is then also comparable.
Study: Does the vaccine protect against the Delta variant?
In preventing symptomatic infections, the efficacy of the Coronavirus vaccine is lower for the delta variant than for previous virus types. However, studies show that the vaccine's efficacy against severe courses of disease, hospitalizations, and deaths remains very high.
Study: Vaccine risks and side effects
Harmless, short-lasting vaccination reactions such as shoulder pain or fever are common with all of the various Coronavirus vaccines. In contrast, the risk of serious side effects such as myocarditis or thrombosis is rare and is continuously monitored by the Paul Ehrlich Institute.
Study: Effectiveness of Moderna
The efficacy of a completed vaccination series with Moderna is 73.1 % in relation to the risk of infection with the delta variant. With regard to severe or even fatal courses, the efficacy is 96.1 %.
The following figure shows the current status of coronavirus vaccine development:
Vaccine development follows a standard set of steps: In the first step, which takes place in the laboratory, researchers identify which structures on the pathogen (disease-causing microorganism) can elicit a sufficient response in the human immune system. Since a vaccine is a highly modified form of the pathogen, there is no risk of infection.
As with all medicines, we need to ensure that vaccines are safe and effective. During the clinical phases, the vaccine is tested on increasingly large groups of people in clinical trials. Only a fraction of vaccines are approved following careful testing in these trials.
Due to the urgency of the COVID-19 pandemic, some researchers are accelerating the vaccine development process by combining Phase 1 and 2 or 2 and 3 clinical trials. Fast-tracking approval is also possible in emergency situations.
Vaccine development process
Will the coronavirus vaccine be mandatory?
In December 2021, an amendment to the Infection Protection Act was officially passed by the German parliament. Accordingly, from mid-March 2022, vaccination will be mandatory in Germany for employees of facilities where people at particular risk from Covid-19 are treated or cared for. This applies, for example, to old people's homes, hospitals, facilities for people with disabilities, day clinics, doctors' offices, emergency services and socio-educational centers. However, there is currently no consensus for making vaccination mandatory for all citizens.
From a vaccine to official recommendations
After a vaccine has completed all test phases and been officially approved, the Standing Committee on Vaccination (STIKO) in Germany conducts a scientific evaluation of the vaccine at population level and provides recommendations. These recommendations form the basis for the Vaccination Directive (SI-RL) of the Federal Joint Committee (G-BA), which ensures that vaccinations (with the exception of travel vaccinations) are paid for by health insurance.
Germans divided on mandatory vaccination
The population in Germany has widely differing views on compulsory vaccination. In particular, the opinions of those who have already been vaccinated (tending to be in favor of mandatory vaccination) and those who have not yet been vaccinated (predominantly against) differ. The data were collected at two-week intervals as part of the so-called COSMO study (monitoring of sociologically relevant variables in connection with the occurrence of the coronavirus).
Legal obstacles to mandatory vaccination
Making vaccines mandatory is also subject to legal limitations: Section 20 (6) of the German Protection against Infection Act (Infektionsschutzgesetz, IfSG) stipulates that the Federal Ministry for Health shall be empowered to declare vaccination compulsory only with the consent of the federal states in the German Bundesrat. In addition, mandatory vaccination would only apply to risk groups within the population that could develop a severe form of the disease.
Who should get vaccinated?
Coronavirus vaccines are the safest way to effectively protect yourself and others from a severe course of the disease. All vaccines approved in Germany have previously undergone rigorous testing for safety and efficacy. The Robert Koch-Institut (RKI) therefore recommends that all adults get vaccinated, unless they have preexisting health reasons for not getting vaccinated. Such medical exemptions must be discussed with a physician on an individual basis. Corona vaccines are now approved for all 5- to 17-year-olds, according to the EMA. Further information and updates on the RKI's vaccine recommendations can be found here.
COVID-19 vaccination for pregnant women – Yes or No?
The STIKO of the RKI recommends COVID-19 vaccinations for unvaccinated pregnant women beginning in the 2nd trimester as well as for unvaccinated breastfeeding women. The first and second dose should be administered using BioNTech's mRNA vaccine ("Comirnaty").
In addition, the STIKO recommends that pregnant and breastfeeding women receive a booster vaccination, as is the case for all persons over the age of 12. For pregnant women, the recommendation applies beginning in the second trimester.
All recommendations were developed by the STIKO after extensive analysis of all available studies and considering all possible risks. One of the main reasons is that pregnancy is a relevant risk factor for severe COVID-19. More background can be found here.
What are the potential side effects?
The top priority in the whole approval process is making sure these vaccines are safe. Investigating side effects is one of the most important research questions in clinical trials. Different vaccination types might have different side effects. You can find more detailed information here.
Some rare side effects may only become apparent after the vaccine has been approved. For this reason, vaccines are monitored even after approval. As with all medicines, anyone – not just doctors – can report side effects directly to the Paul-Ehrlich-Institute.