Children up to twelve cannot be vaccinated against Corona – and from twelve it is not generally recommended. But how can school safely take place after the summer vacation?
Berlin – The concern about an increased spread of corona among children and adolescents in Germany is growing. There is increasing discussion about how infections in minors and how the virus can be passed on in their families can be contained. The human geneticist Wolfram Henn from the German Ethics Council demanded: “We need a compulsory vaccination for the staff in daycare centers and schools.” The Federal Parents’ Council demanded air filters in all schools on Monday. Teacher Association President Heinz-Peter Meidinger warned of a fourth Corona wave with enormous dimensions.
Background to the debate: There is no approved vaccine for children up to twelve. The Standing Vaccination Commission (Stiko) currently only recommends vaccination for children and adolescents if they have certain previous illnesses or people at risk who are not able to protect themselves.
PRO VACCINE REQUIREMENTS FOR TEACHERS:
Henn argues with reference to the school and daycare staff: “Anyone who joins a group of vulnerable people by choosing a profession has a special job-related responsibility.” Teachers should protect children under the age of twelve, said the medical ethicist at the university of the Saarland of the “Rheinische Post” (Monday).
Although children have a low risk of getting seriously ill with Covid, said Henn. However, one must continue to expect “that they will carry the virus into their families and infect people from risk groups”. Henn named cancer patients as examples who could not yet be vaccinated because of their therapies. This group must be protected by compulsory vaccination for certain professional groups.
A vaccination is possible in Germany, but rarely. Since March 2020, proof of immunization against measles has been mandatory for children when they are admitted to daycare centers and schools. This obligation also applies to teachers and educators. According to the Infection Protection Act, the Federal Ministry of Health can order “that threatened parts of the population” have to take part in protective vaccinations.
The chairman of the World Medical Association, Frank Ulrich Montgomery, supports compulsory vaccination for certain professional groups. “Doctors and nurses” should also be vaccinated, he told the Funke media group.
CONTRA VACCINE REQUIREMENTS FOR TEACHERS AND EDUCATIONALS:
Criticism of the initiative came from the Association of Education and Upbringing. “What we don’t need now is a discussion about compulsory vaccination for a professional group that has been vaccinated by an overwhelming majority,” said the head of the union, Udo Beckmann. Teachers and educators were excited about the vaccination. Most of them would have accepted their vaccination offer. The vaccination rate is sometimes 90 percent. Beckmann warned: “If a vaccination is not possible for health reasons, this must not result in a professional ban.”
The federal government also rejects vaccination requirements. All people are called upon to be vaccinated – including teachers and educators, said a spokesman for Health Minister Jens Spahn (CDU). “There will be no compulsory vaccination.” SPD health expert Karl Lauterbach told the Funke newspapers. “I reject such a compulsory vaccination.” Politicians have to keep their word. Henn had also refused a general compulsory vaccination.
In Germany, 58.5 percent now have at least one primary vaccination. 42.6 percent of the total population are fully vaccinated. Low-threshold offers are necessary to convince more people to vaccinate, said the spokesman for the health department. Some countries are already following very “creative paths” – for example mobile vaccination teams in front of supermarkets or in universities.
Spahn had announced that all adults who want to be vaccinated will be able to be vaccinated for the first time in July. For children and adolescents over the age of 12, at least the first vaccination should be made possible by the end of August. For all those who were not vaccinated, the President of the Robert Koch Institute, Lothar Wieler, had predicted: “In the long run, this virus will infect every German who is not protected by a vaccination.”
AIR FILTERS AT SCHOOLS – A SUFFICIENT ALTERNATIVE?
Now it is expected that more air filters will be purchased for schools. According to the Federal Ministry of Economics, there are talks about expanding the federal program to support them. So far, the federal government has only subsidized the installation of fixed systems.
The North Rhine-Westphalian Prime Minister Armin Laschet (CDU) had announced that the federal and state governments were working on a program for more such filters in classrooms. After the Federal Environment Agency changed its critical opinion of the filters, the federal states would now be advised on how to supplement the federal funding, according to the Union’s candidate for chancellor on ARD.
The Federal Parents’ Council called for air filters not to be restricted to classes with children up to twelve years of age. “If this cannot be implemented by the beginning of the new school year, at least larger rooms must be available so that the students are not exposed to the model of alternating lessons again,” said Vice-Head Ines Weber to the newspapers of the Funke media group.
Beckmann said it was the responsibility of politicians “to exhaust all technical possibilities in day-care centers and schools in order to protect everyone in school and day-care center from infections”.
Meidinger said to RTL / ntv that in addition to mask requirements and quick tests, filter systems are important. “But I am skeptical whether that alone is enough to keep schools open with certainty.” The decisive factor would be the progress made in vaccinating children and adolescents. This age group, which has so far been largely unvaccinated, is also threatened with contamination outside of schools. “Even with the best health protection measures in schools, the fourth wave can reach enormous dimensions.”
By Basil Wegener and Jörg Ratzsch, dpa