Why the traffic light sticks to compulsory vaccination

Status: 01/21/2022 04:41 a.m

The plan for general vaccination has become more questionable with the Omicron variant. But the traffic light coalition wants to stick to its schedule. Why?

An analysis by Corinna Emundt’s tagesschau.de

The Bundestag has not even started to discuss a general obligation to vaccinate by means of an orientation debate – the goal of the traffic light coalition for a legally anchored obligation to vaccinate seems almost out of date: Omikron is changing the rules of the game. With the Omikron wave, the realization rushes through the country that this can no longer be stopped by a time-consuming legislative process of compulsory vaccination. In addition, it bypasses the immunization provided by the previous corona vaccinations to a certain extent – these do not necessarily protect against infection, but usually against a severe course. Nevertheless, a lot of grist on the mill of the vaccine skeptics.

Corinna Emundts

For the traffic light coalition, it is now increasingly about the crucial question: Can vaccines, which have so far not been shown to produce sterile basic immunity or permanent basic immunity and also not be able to prevent infections with corona variants such as Omikron, legally encroach on fundamental rights? really justify physical integrity for the benefit of public health? The dilemma of the government made up of SPD, Greens and FDP is: Unlike the previous government, Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Minister of Health Karl Lauterbach have taken a clear position in favor of general vaccination, it is now more than questionable whether they will find a majority in their own MPs for it .

New doubting voices are increasing not only from the well-known vaccination skeptics, but also from medicine: “In fact, we are finding fewer and fewer arguments to vaccinate across the board,” said the infectiologist Jan Rupp on Tuesday to the Ed. In the middle of the delta wave last autumn, the arguments in favor of compulsory vaccination from an infectious and epidemiological point of view were significantly better than they are now at Omikron. For the coming autumn, he sees a vaccination and test strategy for the risk groups above all necessary, the debate about a general obligation to vaccinate will then become increasingly difficult. The Chair of the Ethics Council, Alena Byx, is now rowing back a bit.

But the traffic light coalition is sticking to its plan to establish a legal obligation to vaccinate in the first quarter of the year – by means of an orientation debate in the coming week and then the following cross-party group applications, to which the opposition parties can also join. All three factions of the traffic light parties SPD, Greens and FDP confirmed this schedule tagesschau.de. At the same time, however, the goal is now being formulated in a more differentiated way: It does not necessarily have to be a rigid, general, permanent obligation to vaccinate – it is about the best political solution to get through the pandemic without overloading the health system: Above all, the parliamentarians have that coming autumn – not the current Omikron wave, which can hardly be broken.

More than saving face?

Given the current situation, you can see that as stubbornness or saving face. But if you listen to the faction groups that are working on the group applications – then it sounds like a serious struggle to find the appropriate way: Many MPs have also accompanied the past two pandemic years in Parliament and, looking back, are wondering whether you have always acted with enough foresight in the pandemic. That’s what they want to do now. Graduated compulsory vaccination according to risk and age groups is just as much a topic of discussion as is a time limit and constant adjustment based on current medical knowledge.

SPD parliamentary group leader Rolf Mützenich said on Thursday that he assumed that compulsory vaccination would be discussed “which will apply from a certain age limit”. This means that a general corona vaccination requirement from the age of 18, which has been decided by a majority, is as good as off the table. Some are still undecided. Some of the members of parliament who advocate vaccination are not necessarily in favor of compulsory vaccination – they want to distinguish between actively promoting vaccination and a clear obligation to vaccinate.

And the traffic light groups really want to celebrate the way to a majority decision and make it transparent that they are struggling for the right arguments, instead of deciding on compulsory vaccination with a government draft and group coercion. However, it is questionable whether prominent vaccination skeptics such as the Deputy President of the Bundestag and FDP politician Wolfgang Kubicki would have silently joined the ranks. Instead, he is in charge of developing his own group proposal.

The pro-vaccination advocates among the traffic light deputies are not discouraged by the omicron variant: There is a realization that a previous infection does not bring long-term immunization, but that a triple vaccination offers good immune protection, says the health policy spokeswoman of the SPD faction, Heike Baehrens tagesschau.de: “The most important anchor of stability is vaccination in the pandemic.”

Knowledge versus guesswork

Otherwise, since the beginning of the Corona crisis, politicians have always had to deal with inaccurate statements about the future, on the basis of which they have to make decisions: “But the vaccination protection has been scientifically proven.” Everything else is conjecture, for example that basic immunization can be achieved through the infection process or that no more aggressive virus variants have appeared. It is also currently not possible to prove that the transition to an endemic situation has already taken place. “We now have to be even more courageous in view of what lies ahead.”

From the point of view of the health policy spokeswoman for the Greens, Maria Klein-Schmeink, it is now a matter of preventing the same situation in autumn as in 2021. The concept of compulsory vaccination does not mean forcing one hundred percent of a society to do something that it does do not want. However, there is too large a group of unvaccinated people who take high risks and thus have a major impact on everyone’s degrees of freedom. You want to achieve that. “Because we know that we can get through the pandemic better with a large number of people who have been vaccinated three times.” In addition, too little is known about Long Covid. All of this speaks for compulsory vaccination – and no further delay in parliamentary consultation: “We will not be able to avoid the debate.”

Even the skeptics of a general obligation to vaccinate in the ranks of the traffic light coalition are not in favor of postponing the debate. The health policy spokeswoman for the FDP parliamentary group, Christine Aschenberg-Dugnus, is against general vaccination requirements, but considers the broad parliamentary discussion to be important. Omikron does not make the debate superfluous – the vaccination requirement would be intended for the coming autumn, it must be clarified now, it says in her office: “If the debate was only held in the coming autumn, it would be too late.”

Corona peak – Lauterbach wants vaccination soon

Vera Wolfskämpf, ARD Berlin, 19.1.2022 · 07:45


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