BERLIN (AP) – Ruling parties in Germany are putting the brakes on mandatory coronavirus vaccination plans, saying it may take months for lawmakers to properly debate the contentious measure in parliament.
The Berlin daily Tagesspiegel quoted Dirk Wiese, deputy chairman of the Social Democrats parliamentary group, on Sunday as saying that the Bundestag should aim to complete its deliberations on the vaccines mandate in the first quarter of 2022.
Green Party caucus leader Britta Hasselmann told media group Funke the first debate could take place at the end of January.
With few parliamentary sessions in February, that could mean that the lower house will not pass a bill until the end of March. Germany’s upper house, Bundesrat, would then take up the matter in April, meaning it could enter into force no earlier than a month later.
Tagesspiegel said implementation could be delayed until June to ensure technical conditions, such as a national vaccine registry, are in place.
In November, Chancellor Olaf Scholz predicted “A general mandate on vaccines that will come into effect next year, in February or early March, and for which everyone can prepare now. “
Among those opposing a mandate on vaccines are some members of the Free Democrats, who are part of the ruling coalition, and the former German health minister who pledged last summer not to introduce general mandate on vaccines. Political leaders have agreed to let lawmakers vote according to their own conscience rather than party lines on the issue.
The impending tenure was also a rallying point for vocal anti-vaccine activists who took part in protests against Germany’s pandemic restrictions. Some recent protests have turned violent, with protesters attacking police after being ordered to disperse.
Health Minister Karl Lauterbach said he did not want to speculate on when the vaccine’s mandate might go into effect, but acknowledged that it would likely come too late to prevent the latest highly contagious variant of the virus from s ‘to install.
“With mandatory vaccinations, we won’t be able to really aggressively stop the omicron wave we’re going through now,” Lauterbach told public broadcaster ARD.
“What we can do with compulsory vaccination, which is why I remain a strong supporter of a vaccine mandate, is to avoid facing the same problem in the fall with a variant that could be much more dangerous” , did he declare.
Almost 72% of Germans are considered “fully vaccinated”, while 42.3% have received an additional booster.
The German disease control agency has reported 36,552 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the past 24 hours and 77 deaths.
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