German Finance Minister Says Vaccination to Be Opened to All By June at Latest
3 May 2021
By David Barwick – Frankfurt (Econostream) – German Finance Minister Olaf Scholz on Monday said that although the current order of vaccination must continue for now, vaccination should be opened to everyone no later than June.
In an interview with German media group Funke Medien, Scholz noted that on one day last week more than 1.1 vaccinations had been administered in Germany, evidence of ‘real progress’.
‘In total, more than 22 million citizens have already received at least their first vaccination - that should give us all hope’, he said. ‘Now we need to mobilise all forces to keep up the pace and ensure that the available vaccine doses are also vaccinated quickly.’
The prevailing order of vaccination should be adhered to, he made clear. ‘By June at the latest, we will finally be able to extend vaccination to everyone’, he said. ‘If we give up on prioritisation too soon, I fear the first-come, first-served principle: those who are well connected and know someone who knows someone will have a much better chance than those who are less well wired.’
Those vaccinated should be no less restricted than those who have recovered from Covid-19 or been found via testing to be uninfected, he said. A regulation is being worked on ‘intensively’ to set relevant rules forth, he said. ‘Restrictions on freedom of action are only justified if they serve to protect one's own health and that of other citizens’, he said.
If an individual is immune on account of having been vaccinated, ‘certain restrictions are difficult to justify’, he said, effectively hinting that curfews would no longer apply to the vaccinated.
However, he said, ‘We will probably have to observe distance and hygiene rules for a while longer’, including the obligation to wear masks, in view of ‘residual risk’. How long that will be the case ‘cannot be seriously predicted’, he said. ‘Mutations of the virus could lead to us all having to be vaccinated a third time.’
Still, the pandemic is not without an end and ‘[t]he goal is already in sight, vaccinations and the tests are really moving us forward’, he said. ‘I very much hope to be able to sit in a beer garden again in the summer.’
Scholz predicted clarity about opening steps ‘[b]y the end of May at the latest’, but made this dependent on the number of new cases dropping stably below ‘critical levels’. At that point, opening can proceed ‘step by step’, he said, as ‘otherwise we would only prolong the way out of this damnable pandemic.’
If there is no EU-wide vaccination certificate by end-summer, standard vaccination cards would be an acceptable alternative for admission to places where people congregate, he said.