German lawmakers back vaccine mandate for health workers

Dec 10, 2021, 1:43 AM | Updated: Dec 12, 2021, 7:40 am

BERLIN (AP) — German lawmakers overwhelmingly backed a bill Friday that requires staff at hospitals and nursing homes to get immunized against the coronavirus — the first of two vaccine mandates being considered in the country.

Health Minister Karl Lauterbach had earlier told parliament it was unconscionable that some who work with particularly vulnerable people were still not vaccinated.

“This vaccine mandate is necessary because it’s completely unacceptable that, after two years of pandemic, people who have entrusted their care to us are dying unnecessarily in institutions because unvaccinated people work there,” he said. “We cannot accept this.”

Of the 689 votes cast in the lower house on the measure, 571 were in favor and 80 were against. Abstentions were recorded for 38 lawmakers.

Parliament’s upper house, or Bundesrat, approved the bill hours later, after lawmakers agreed to fast-track the legislative process.

A second, more contentious bill that would make COVID-19 shots compulsory for all is being prepared and could be debated by parliament next month.

The far-right Alternative for Germany, or AfD, party is opposed to the universal vaccine mandate. Some members of other parties, including the former health minister in Angela Merkel’s departed government, have also said they will vote against that measure.

AfD’s co-leader Tino Chrupalla accused the new German government, which took office Wednesday, of undermining the public’s trust by reversing assurances over the summer that there would be no vaccine mandates. He also warned that care workers who refuse to get vaccinated could quit their jobs if the shot becomes compulsory.

The new measure means workers in health care facilities will need to show they are fully vaccinated or have recovered from COVID-19 by mid-March next year.

Official figures show that about 69.4 % of Germany’s population of 83 million are fully vaccinated.

Neighboring Austria, which has a slightly lower vaccination rate, announced plans Thursday to impose fines of up to 3,600 euro s (around $4,000) on people who flout a coronavirus vaccine mandate it aims to introduce in February for all residents age 14 and over.

Austrian Health Minister Wolfgang Mueckstein said people who are eligible for exemptions will have to have those registered in a central vaccination register, which will be checked at regular three-month intervals. The first cutoff date will be March 15.

Lauterbach, the new German health minister, had urged lawmakers to put aside party politics and support the bill, which also includes measures such as allowing pharmacists, vets and dentists to perform vaccinations, and the option to restrict sports and leisure events and close restaurants in regions with high case numbers.

“We have no time to lose,” he said.

Germany recorded 61,288 newly confirmed cases of COVID-19 over the past 24 hours, and 484 deaths. Doctors have warned that while the number of new infections are going down, the peak of hospitalizations is likely to be reached during the festive period.

Meanwhile, organizers of the annual New Year’s Eve celebrations in front of Berlin’s iconic Brandenburg Gate say they plan to stage the event without a live audience again.

The party normally draws hundreds of thousands of revelers, but no spectators were permitted last year for the first time due to the pandemic.

___

Follow all AP stories on the pandemic at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

FILE - The Flint water plant tower is seen, Thursday, Jan. 6, 2022, in Flint, Mich. A Michigan Supr...
Associated Press

EXPLAINER: Years later, Flint water court fight drags on

DETROIT (AP) — Michigan authorities have long promised to hold key officials criminally responsible for lead contamination and health problems arising from a disastrous water switch in Flint in 2014. There’s not much to show more than eight years later. The latest: an extraordinary rebuke Tuesday from the state Supreme Court, which unanimously dismissed indictments […]
12 hours ago
FILE-- Gas is advertised for more than $6 per gallon at a gas station in Sacramento, Calif., Friday...
Associated Press

California lawmakers to vote on $307.9 billion spending plan

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California lawmakers on Wednesday will vote on a plan to spend $308 billion in taxpayer money over the next year as the coffers of the world’s fifth largest economy continue to swell during the pandemic. The centerpiece of the operating budget crafted by Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom and legislative leaders is […]
12 hours ago
FILE - President Joe Biden speaks during the Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate in the Sou...
Associated Press

Most say nation on wrong track, including Dems: AP-NORC poll

WASHINGTON (AP) — An overwhelming and growing majority of Americans say the U.S. is heading in the wrong direction, including nearly 8 in 10 Democrats, according to a new poll that finds deep pessimism about the economy plaguing President Joe Biden. Eighty-five percent of U.S. adults say the country is on the wrong track, and […]
12 hours ago
Lev Parnas, a former associate of Rudy Giuliani, arrives at the federal courthouse with his wife Sv...
Associated Press

Giuliani’s former Ukraine fixer gets 20 months in prison

NEW YORK (AP) — Lev Parnas, an associate of Rudy Giuliani who was a figure in President Donald Trump’s first impeachment investigation, was sentenced Wednesday to a year and eight months in prison for fraud and campaign finance crimes. Parnas, 50, had sought leniency on the grounds that he’d cooperated with the Congressional probe of […]
12 hours ago
This Feb. 26, 2021, file photo shows an oil well east of Casper, Wyo. The Biden administration is r...
Associated Press

Biden administration holding its first onshore oil sales

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — The U.S. government this week is holding its first onshore oil and gas drilling lease auctions since President Joe Biden took office after a federal court blocked the administration’s attempt to suspend such sales because of climate change worries. The online auctions start Wednesday and conclude Thursday. About 200 square miles […]
12 hours ago
Follow @ktar923...
Sponsored Content by Arizona Department of Health Services

Great news: Children under 5 can now get COVID-19 vaccine

After more than two years of battle with an invisible killer, we can now vaccinate the youngest among us against COVID-19. This is great news.

Sponsored Articles

...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Most plumbing problems can be fixed with regular maintenance

Instead of waiting for a problem to happen, experts suggest getting a head start on your plumbing maintenance.
...
CANVAS ANNUITY

Best retirement savings rates hit 4.30%

Maximize your retirement savings with guaranteed fixed rates up to 4.30%. Did you know there is a financial product that can give you great interest rates as you build your retirement savings and provide you with a paycheck for life once you retire? It might sound too good to be true but it is not; this product is called an annuity.
...
Carla Berg, MHS, Deputy Director, Public Health Services, Arizona Department of Health Services

ADHS mobile program brings COVID-19 vaccines and boosters to Arizonans

The Arizona Department of Health Services and partner agencies are providing even more widespread availability by making COVID-19 vaccines available in neighborhoods through trusted community partners.
German lawmakers back vaccine mandate for health workers