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German minister calls for COVID-19 vaccine centres to be reactivated

German minister calls for COVID-19 vaccine centres to be reactivated
A man waits alone in front of a coronavirus test station in front of the main station in Duisburg, Germany, Oct 25, 2021. (File photo: AP/Martin Meissner)

BERLIN: Germany's outgoing health minister is calling on state governments to reactivate some specialised COVID-19 vaccination centres that were closed in the late summer to help administer booster shots as new coronavirus infections increase rapidly.

Germany's standing committee on vaccination currently recommends booster shots for over-70s and a few other groups, but the health ministry has said that everyone is in principle entitled to one — drawing criticism from a group representing doctors.

The country's vaccination campaign has slowed considerably since the summer. According to official figures, about two-thirds of the population of 83 million has been fully vaccinated.

Meanwhile, the number of new infections has risen constantly in recent weeks. On Monday (Nov 1), the number of new cases over the past seven days stood at 154.8 per 100,000 residents — up from 110.1 a week earlier.

“In order to make possible a booster vaccination for as many as possible as quickly as possible, states should get the vaccination centres that they have kept on standby since the end of September ready to start again now,” Health Minister Jens Spahn was quoted as telling Monday's edition of the daily Rheinische Post.

Spahn also called for regional authorities to send invitations to all over-60s to get another shot.

Specialised vaccination centres did a significant part of the work in Germany's initial vaccination campaign, but many have been closed or mothballed as the campaign slowed down.

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Source: AP/ng