German Health Minister Jens Spahn announced Monday the nation would end its COVID-19 vaccination prioritizing and open inoculations to all adults who want them, effective June 7.
Speaking to reporters in Berlin, Spahn said the current system of prioritization, in which the most vulnerable people — usually the elderly — are eligible for vaccines first, will have run its course by then. He said 70% of those above the age of 60 had received at least one shot — and about one quarter of them is fully vaccinated.
He said 40 million vaccine doses have been given and around nine million people are fully vaccinated in the country of 83 million. But Spahn said the pace was accelerating and by the end of the month he expects about 40% of all people in Germany will have received at least one shot.
Spahn defended the prioritization of the elderly and other vulnerable groups as "a moral obligation" and epidemiologically necessary. He said, "That was not bureaucracy; it has been saving lives.”
Spahn also asked for patience, saying not all those seeking shots will be vaccinated immediately as of June 7 or even in the month of June. But he promised the vaccination campaign will continue as planned and that everyone in Germany who wants to be inoculated will have access to shots by the end of the summer.
Spahn said the special COVID-19 measures implemented last month have worked, with the latest figures from the Robert Koch Institute’s Department of Infectious Diseases indicating the national infection rate has dropped below the key benchmark of 100 cases per 100,000 people over the past week.