July 28, 2021

German health minister asks for patience as frustration mounts over speed of vaccine rollout

Jens Spahn, German health minister, attends a federal cabinet meeting at the Chancellery in Berlin on January 6. Clemens Bilan/Pool/Getty Images

German Health Minister Jens Spahn has asked people in the country to be patient over the speed of the coronavirus vaccine rollout.

Spahn, speaking at a press conference Wednesday, said the first step was to get all those needing care and the oldest in the country vaccinated. 

He said almost 400,000 people in Germany had so far been vaccinated.

Figures from the Robert Koch Institute, the national agency for disease control and prevention, show that 367,331 vaccinations have been administered, with 150,000 in nursing homes and around 176,000 medical staff getting the shot. 

Germany lags behind the UK, which has vaccinated around 1.3 million people as of Tuesday. But it is ahead of France, which has also attracted criticism over a slow start to its vaccination rollout, administering 516 shots by January 1. The country has since significantly ramped up its rollout, with more than 5,000 doses given on January 5, according to its health minister. Italy has so far administered nearly 250,000 inoculations.

Spahn added that these were days of confidence for Germany.

But he also said he understood impatience in the population.

The truth is that the vaccine is a scarce good worldwide,” he said. 

“That is why we have to ask large parts of the population for patience,” Spahn said, explaining that the situation was no different in the wider European Union or beyond.

Spahn said the reason for the rollout speed was due to limited production capacity.

The good news: There will be enough vaccine in Germany,” he said.

Spahn said the hope was to be able to offer a vaccine to everyone in the summer. 

“Today we expect a second authorization for the Moderna vaccine,” he said, referring to a pending European Medicines Agency decision on the Moderna vaccine Wednesday.

“We are hoping that the delivery of Moderna vaccines starts early next week.”