Is it time for a corona vaccination in Germany?

The drive-in injection point at Lanxess Ar

The vaccination center at the Lanxess Arena was only opened on Tuesday. Cologne now manages 15,000 vaccinations per day.

(Photo: dpa)

Pro: Now only coercion helps

Vaccination is the most effective way to protect yourself from a severe course of infection with the coronavirus. But the vaccination rate is still too low to ensure a normal life for everyone.

From Markus Fasse

Every day more people have the same feeling: enough. It’s enough for kids, parents and teachers facing the next round of homeschooling. It is enough for landlords, retailers, entrepreneurs and freelancers for whom the next lockdown can cost their economic existence. And it is enough for doctors and nurses who have been on constant duty against the corona virus for 20 months.

Respect for those who are caring for the seriously ill in the clinics these days, ventilating them and, in the end, possibly accompanying them to their death. The anger is also so great because a lot of suffering can be avoided. Because there is a broad, scientifically well-established consensus.

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Firstly: those who are vaccinated reduce the risk of infection and are better protected against a serious course of the disease. Second: A high vaccination rate is a prerequisite for returning to a reasonably normal life for everyone. Third: At currently 68 percent, the vaccination rate in Germany is far too low to break the seemingly eternal cycle of lockdown and loosening.

From science to politics: after almost a year of vaccination campaigns, the triad of informing, asking and enticing has been exhausted. It is right to take vaccination buses to those people who cannot find their way to the vaccination centers. It is right to tempt you with cinnamon rolls, sausages and free concerts. But it is not enough to convince enough people – whatever motives may keep them from being vaccinated.

Therefore it is now time for a clear state line: Vaccination is a civic duty, unless there are medical reasons against it. As is the case with other highly contagious and potentially fatal diseases like measles. They only consider those harmless who have not yet had them.

Of course, the state intervenes with the obligation to vaccinate civil liberties; in the right to physical integrity. But this right is not absolute; it is dependent on the rights of fellow human beings. For example, what about those who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons, for whom infection becomes a lottery for life and death? What about those seriously ill who cannot be operated on because the intensive care beds are occupied by Covid patients?

It was a mistake in German politics to exclude the general vaccination requirement. This makes the U-turn that is now being initiated by Winfried Kretschmann and Markus Söder, all the more important. Persuasion no longer helps, compulsory vaccination is on the agenda.

Cons: Options not exhausted

Science does not yet provide a clear answer as to whether compulsory vaccination is already appropriate. It could violate Article 2 of the Basic Law.

From Christian Rickens

To be clear: vaccinations and boosters are the best way out of the corona crisis. All citizens for whom this is possible from a health point of view should get vaccinated immediately. The anti-vaccination arguments are largely based on misread statistics and unscientific quackery.

Why am I sending this in advance? Because it is now hardly possible in Germany to argue for individual freedoms in the pandemic without being appropriated as part of the lateral thinker group. Those who, on the other hand, advocate the drastic restriction of civil rights, can act as part of an enlightened elite that calls for state compulsion to be the only way of salvation out of the pandemic – and likes to invoke “science”.

But science does not give a clear answer to the question of complex trade-offs. That was the case a year ago with the unspeakable night curfews, and now it is again with the debate about compulsory vaccination. That would probably even be legally permissible. But not everything that is legally possible suits a liberal constitutional state well. Compulsory vaccination means a significant interference by the state with the fundamental right to physical integrity, which is laid down in Article 2 of the Basic Law.

One criterion for assessing whether this intervention is acceptable should be: Have all options below a mandatory vaccination been exhausted in order to advance the immunization of the population against the coronavirus? This question can be clearly answered in the negative. Millions of Germans are currently waiting for their booster vaccination. The lines in front of the few vaccination centers that are still open are often hundreds of meters long. And how big the hard core of the ideologically deluded vaccination refusers really is, will only become apparent in the coming weeks.

My prognosis: nationwide 2G rules will mean that many will still be vaccinated who were previously too easy or too bad.
And the second question that a state has to ask itself before it enacts a new rule: is it able to enforce it and sanction violations? I am skeptical about this, after all, this state has so far not even been able to effectively control a 3G rule in rail traffic, for example. It is unlikely that the militant corona deniers will be presented with the SEK for compulsory vaccination. But even fines against vaccination refusals have to be imposed and collected by an authority. Politicians are better off investing this energy in lower-threshold vaccination offers.

More: Debate about compulsory corona vaccination – questions and answers

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