Thursday, March 30, 2023

German lawmakers reject mandatory COVID shots for over 60s

BERLIN – German lawmakers on Thursday rejected a bill requiring everyone in the country aged 60 and over to be vaccinated against the coronavirus – a compromise solution that the government hoped would get a parliamentary majority.

Chancellor Olaf Scholz and his health minister had originally called for a vaccine mandate to apply to all adults in Germany, but some government lawmakers and most of the opposition balked at the idea.

The vote brought joy to anti-vaccine activists, who staged a march in Berlin’s government district with drums, horns and slogans such as “we are the red line” or simply “no”.

The bill was put forward by a cross-party group after months of bargaining. It envisaged the need for older people to get the shot, but for all adults to have mandatory counseling to help them weigh the benefits and risks of being vaccinated against COVID-19.

In the end, 378 lawmakers voted against the bill, 296 were in favor and nine abstained.

Germany has managed the pandemic well compared to some of its European neighbors, with fewer deaths per capita than Italy, France, Britain or Sweden.

Social Democratic MP Dagmar Schmidt, who introduced the settlement bill, said that the number of infections has been decreasing recently.

Confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany have dropped in recent weeks from a peak of about 300,000 a day in the past 24 hours to just over 200,000. According to Germany’s disease control agency, there were 328 COVID-19-related deaths on Thursday.

But Schmidt said it’s necessary to prepare for a fresh increase in cases and the emergence of a possible new variant later this year.

“We will face the same challenge next fall that we did last time,” she said. “The virus just won’t disappear.”

Nation World News Desk
Nation World News Desk
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