Germany misses 80% vaccination target by end of January

AP , Monday 31 Jan 2022

The German government is set to miss a target of giving at least one shot of coronavirus vaccine to 80% of the population by the end of January.

Vaccination in Germany
In this Feb.17, 2021 file photo Renate Schulz, left, receives a Moderna COVID-19 vaccination by doctor Laura Tosberg, right, at a new coronavirus, COVID-19, vaccination center at the Velodrom (velodrome-stadium) in Berlin, Germany. AP

With one day to go before the end of the month, official statistics on Monday showed that 75.8% of Germany's 83 million residents have received at least one shot, 74% are fully vaccinated and 52.8% have also received a booster.

The target ``has been missed,'' government spokesman Steffen Hebestreit acknowledged at a regular news conference. The vaccination rate is ``significantly better than it was before, but it isn't 80%.''

Causes include unwillingness to get vaccinated and ``perhaps also communication weaknesses,'' Hebestreit said. He noted that the pace of vaccinations, which in December sometimes topped 1 million per day, slowed over Christmas and hasn't recovered as much as officials hoped. Over the past week, an average 351,000 shots per day were administered.

While the number of people getting boosters has risen quickly, the proportion of the population getting a first shot has only crept higher in recent weeks.

Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Germany's 16 state governors decided a week ago to keep various restrictions in place in the face of rising infections, but not to expand them. Scholz also announced a new advertising campaign to encourage vaccination.

The health minister has said that a wave caused by the omicron variant is likely to peak in mid- to late February. ``At the moment, I would warn against thinking too early that it's over,'' Hebestreit said.

German lawmakers last week debated a possible universal vaccination mandate, which Scholz supports but has left to parliament to design. It's unclear when any legislation will go to a vote, but it will be spring at least before any mandate comes into effect.

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