Tuesday, November 23, 2021
Other measures more important
The compulsory vaccination debate hides helplessness
An analysis by Markus Lippold
The voices calling for a general corona vaccination requirement in Germany are increasing. Prime ministers are among them, politicians and experts. But the debate obscures the fact that other measures are much more urgent. Because compulsory vaccination would be too late for the fourth wave.
“I believe that in the end we will not be able to avoid a general compulsory vaccination. Otherwise it will be an endless loop with this crap corona,” said Bavaria’s Prime Minister Markus Söder last Friday. It was one of the first voices from the first line of politics to call for such a compulsory vaccination – shortly after the federal-state summit and probably also under the impression of Austria’s decision to introduce compulsory vaccination by next February.
Only on Thursday, Söder and the other prime ministers at their summit asked the federal government to make vaccination compulsory for certain professional groups, for nursing staff in clinics and homes. The next day, the CSU boss added again: He expressed doubts that such a partial vaccination requirement would be sufficient.
Söder received support for his demand not only from his own party, but also from his country colleagues. Daniel Günther from Schleswig-Holstein, Volker Bouffier from Hesse, Reiner Haseloff from Saxony-Anhalt – all of them from the CDU – and the Green Winfried Kretschmann from Baden-Württemberg spoke out in unison for compulsory vaccination for all citizens. Other politicians also expressed themselves accordingly, from the SPD health expert Karl Lauterbach to the CDU member of the Bundestag Serap Guler.
The heads of government of the countries, especially those of the CDU, can easily make such demands from their lips. Because the federal government would be responsible for a general and nationwide vaccination requirement. There are currently two in principle: one executive and one that is currently being formed in the coalition negotiations between the traffic light parties.
The traffic light is undecided
The outgoing federal government from the Union and the SPD remains in its rejection of a duty to spades. The discussion is understandable, but the incumbent federal government will no longer change its position, said government spokesman Steffen Seibert. The new government, on the other hand, is not yet in office; it has not even finished negotiating its coalition agreement. And in the Infection Protection Act, which the SPD, Greens and FDP have just updated and decided by the Bundestag and Council, there is no mention of a mandatory vaccination.
The traffic light has meanwhile reached an agreement on a regulation for the nursing staff. It is still unclear whether the three parties will support measures for all citizens. Union parliamentary group vice-chairman Thorsten Frei therefore called on the SPD, Greens and FDP to comment on a general vaccination requirement. The debate has picked up tremendously in the last few days, said Frei in the “early start” of ntv. “That is why the future government partners will have to act accordingly.” So far, he has the impression that the three parties have very different positions.
That the old federal government no longer wants to tackle the hot iron and the future government hesitates – that should be clear to the state ministers, especially those of the CDU. Likewise the fact that introducing compulsory vaccinations in the fight against the fourth wave would be of no use, because the effects would be felt much too late. “It does not solve our acute current problem,” said the Managing Minister of Health Jens Spahn from the CDU. That “acute current problem” is the rapidly increasing number of cases and the alarming reports from the intensive care units.
In view of this development, some federal states have already sharpened, such as Bavaria and Saxony. You have been relying on extensive 2G regulations since this week. But is that still enough? Experts doubt. “We no longer have the situation under control,” said epidemiologist Timo Ulrichs on Tuesday in ntv’s Corona special. Contact restrictions for vaccinated and unvaccinated people would have needed earlier. Now only the lockdown can help – immediately and across the board for unvaccinated people, says Ulrichs. Contact restrictions, also for vaccinated people, would help faster than a vaccination requirement.
Other measures are more important now
In December, the federal and state governments want to sit down again to evaluate the measures adopted last week. It is quite possible that it will then be sharpened nationwide – again too late. And it is quite possible that a general compulsory vaccination will at least be on the table. Legal issues need to be clarified as well as enforceability and control.
And last but not least, there are strong voices against this measure. Not only from the traffic light parties, but also from Friedrich Merz, who has a good chance of becoming the next CDU boss. “The general compulsory vaccination would now take weeks or months to work,” he said in the ARD. Merz spoke of a “sham debate”, instead called for consistent and Germany-wide 2G rules and also brought constitutional concerns into play – even if a number of constitutional lawyers consider compulsory vaccination to be justifiable.
The introduction of a general compulsory vaccination would also be a long process that would take months, also because previously unvaccinated people would have to be given the opportunity to collect their syringes. However, because time is of the essence, other measures should currently be in the foreground. The calls for a mandatory vaccination for everyone seem more like a sign of helplessness – and like the concealment of one’s own failure in the face of warnings since the summer that the federal and state governments have ignored in the Bundestag election campaign. Rapid help is only promised by drastic measures, including a lockdown for those who have been vaccinated – and for which, in turn, the federal states would be responsible, not the federal government.