A year ago, it was still unthinkable to start a vaccination obligation in Germany, say experts in Nieuwsuur. But now that ICs are largely occupied by unvaccinated people, public opinion is tilted.
“We now see that a majority of people, even given the fourth wave, have very little understanding that ICbeds are not immediately available for the seriously ill, such as those with cancer,” says doctor-microbiologist and professor Alex Friedrich. “This is because unvaccinated covid patients are especially hospitalized. While a vaccine could have prevented that.”
The German government wants a vaccination obligation as of 1 February. Parliament has yet to approve the proposal. At the moment, 68.7 percent of the German population is fully vaccinated.
The differences between German regions are wide. In Munster, there seems to be little going on: the vaccination rate is 94 percent there. But in parts where the vaccination rate is low, such as in Bavaria, the situation is serious. According to Friedrich, you can see that in the pressure on care.
If the vaccination rate does not rise, a new wave is waiting for us next year. “The next two, three, four years will be no different than this winter. At the right time, with the good vaccine, adapted to variants, we have to start vaccinating after the summer.”
According to Friedrich, we should have vaccinated by the end of 2020 to prevent the wave in this winter. “So there was no vaccine back then. That could be different next year. But then we must know how to reach people, convince them. And the last ones who dont want to cross the line, who need to know that there is an end to the patience of society.”
He calls the vaccination obligation the very last measure you want to take. Yet, according to him, the point comes into the picture that “apparently laws are needed” to convince people for a shot. Friedrich: “By now, a majority seems to say: everything is good with freedom, but the freedom of the few that ends where the protection and security of those close to you begins.”
Joost van Loon, sociologist at the University of Eichstaett-Ingolstadt, is also in favour of the duty. He does think that enforcement will go quite randomly, for example with a fine.
“There is no central patient registration in Germany, many data are only stored locally. General practitioners have the right not to give these dates further. The data has also been destroyed at vaccination centers. Central data files that may be mentioned in Greece or in Austria, where you can simply send people a fine by mail, is impossible in Germany,” says Van Loon.
The vaccination obligation will therefore be a signal above all. “Itll be a little random whether you get caught or not. Like being drunk behind the wheel, or having no winter tires when it snows. You get risk behaviors, where people think: what are the chances of me getting caught?”
Sense of Duty
According to Van Loon, the reaction of Germans differs from the Dutch. “In the Netherlands, wearing a face mask was seen as an attack on individual freedom. In Germany, a culture of collective responsibility prevails much more, a more ingrained sense of duty. So people are more likely to do what they are asked of. They dont spill that much.”
Van Roon expects most Germans to accept a vaccination obligation. “Although it would go too far to open their front door and let themselves be checked voluntarily. My suspicion is that they will also draw the line somewhere there.”