Information on coronavirus vaccination

COVID-19 vaccines contributed significantly toward the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic running a comparatively mild course in Germany.

The development of highly effective vaccines against COVID-19 and the large-scale vaccination campaign above all helped reduce the number of severe cases and protect highly vulnerable groups. However, no vaccine is free of side effects. In very rare cases, it is possible for such serious vaccination side effects and/or complications to occur that individuals suffer long-term health impairments. Against this backdrop, the Federal Ministry of Health provides answers to the most important questions concerning COVID-19 vaccination, side effects of COVID-19 vaccines and vaccine injury law.

Basic knowledge

Who is recommended a vaccination?

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, infection trends have changed greatly. At this point in time, it can be assumed that it is transitioning to that of endemic waves. This means that while the virus continues to be transmitted among the population, the milder infections seen with Omicron virus variants and the high immunity within the population on account of vaccination and past infection have resulted in there now being significantly fewer instances of severe illness.In contrast with earlier virus variants, infections with the Omicron variant also appear to result in fewer instances of long COVID.

Nevertheless, SARS-CoV-2 infection does pose a risk of severe illness for those who have gone unvaccinated or, for example, are over 60 or have underlying conditions. Furthermore, various studies indicate that vaccination may provide a certain level of protection against Long COVID (Useful information for patients and interested parties).

The Standing Committee on Vaccination (STIKO) recommends the following persons have basic immunity against the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus:

  • All persons aged ≥ 18 years
  • Residents of long-term care facilities
  • Children and adolescents aged between six months and 17 years with an underlying condition that confers a higher risk of severe illness
  • Persons of any age with a higher occupational infection risk on account of their work in health or long-term care that brings them into direct contact with patients or residents
  • Family members and close contacts from the age of six months of persons for whom the COVID-19 vaccination is unlikely to produce a protective immune response
  • Women of reproductive age and pregnant women

Basic immunity exists once the immune system has been exposed to pathogen components (through vaccination) or the pathogen itself (through infection) three times. At least one of these exposures should be through vaccination. The vaccine should be a current variant-adapted vaccine that is recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Groups of people who are at increased risk are recommended an additional booster in the autumn of each year.

This applies to:

  • All people aged 60 or over
  • Residents of long-term care facilities
  • Anyone over the age of six months with relevant underlying conditions
  • People of all ages with an increased infection risk on account of their occupation in healthcare or long-term care that involves direct contact with patients or residents
  • Family members and close contacts of people for whom the COVID-19 vaccination is unlikely to produce a protective immune response

Persons in this group whose immune system is not compromised and who already had a SARS-COV-2 infection in the current year do not usually need to get an annual COVID-19 booster in autumn.

For people with an immune deficiency and a relevant limited immune response, additional vaccine doses at shorter intervals may be beneficial. Whether additional vaccine doses are needed is determined by the attending physician.

Who is eligible for COVID-19 vaccination?

Since 7 April 2023, entitlement to COVID-19 vaccinations for people with statutory health insurance is subject to the provisions of the vaccination directive passed by the Joint Federal Committee of Physicians and Health Insurance Funds (G-BA) on the basis of the Standing Committee on Vaccination’s recommendation. According to the COVID-19 Prevention Ordinance, aside from the provisions of the vaccination directive (German), those insured are entitled to COVID-19 vaccinations should a doctor deem it medically necessary.

Furthermore, health insurance funds can make provisions for additional protective vaccinations within their by-laws.

People with private health insurance are subject to their individual contractual terms.

Where can you get vaccinated?

A large proportion of COVID-19 vaccinations are carried out by local GPs, which includes vaccinations administered by doctors at nursing care facilities. Company doctors and local pharmacies also administer COVID-19 vaccines.

Is the COVID-19 vaccine recommended for healthy children and adolescents?

The Standing Committee on Vaccination (STIKO) currently recommends that babies, (young) children and adolescents without underlying conditions do not require vaccination against COVID-19 on account of the mostly mild courses of disease with a very low likelihood of needing hospitalisation.

Children and adolescents with relevant underlying conditions are to continue to receive vaccinations according to the recommendations.

Is the COVID-19 vaccine recommended for pregnant people?

Like other healthy adults between the ages of 18 and 59, it is recommended that pregnant people have a basic immunity. For the basic immunity, it is important that the immune system is exposed to pathogen components (through vaccination) or the pathogen itself (through infection) three times. At least one of these exposures should have occurred through vaccination. In addition to the basic immunity, pregnant people with an existing underlying illness are recommended to get a booster from the second trimester in autumn.

Pregnant people should only be vaccinated from the second trimester, and the vaccine should be Comirnaty by BioNTech/Pfizer.


What vaccines are administered in Germany?

The following COVID-19 vaccines are currently available in Germany (short overview of authorised COVID-19 vaccine products, accessible via the Paul Ehrlich Institute website):

  • Comirnaty by BioNTech/Pfizer [including vaccines adapted to Omicron variants (monovalent: Comirnaty XBB.1.5; bivalent: Comirnaty Original/Omicron BA.1 and Comirnaty Original/Omicron BA.4-5)]
  • Spikevax by Moderna [bivalent vaccines adapted to Omicron variants (Spikevax bivalent Original/Omicron BA.1 and Spikevax bivalent Original/Omicron BA.4-5)]
  • Jcovden (old name: COVID-19 Vaccine Janssen) by Janssen-Cilag (Johnson & Johnson)
  • Nuvaxovid by Novavax
  • COVID-19 Vaccine (inactivated, adjuvanted) by Valneva
  • VidPrevtyn Beta by Sanofi Pasteur

Information regarding use can be found in the expert information and instructions for use for each vaccine that are provided electronically by the pharmaceutical companies. Moreover, the approved product information texts can be accessed via the website of the Paul Ehrlich Institute (PEI). Details describing which vaccine should preferentially be administered to each age group can be found in STIKO’s vaccination recommendations.

A short overview of authorised COVID-19 vaccine products can be found on the website of the Paul Ehrlich Institute. It does not state whether the preparations are available on the market.

How will the vaccine be procured in the future?

No further central procurement of COVID-19 vaccines by the Federal Government is planned. Once the Federation’s respective stocks have been distributed or used up, the pharmaceutical companies will be able to introduce their COVID-19 vaccines into the distribution chains themselves. As with other medicinal products and vaccines, ordering will then be carried out by the doctor from pharmaceutical wholesalers through pharmacies. COVID-19 vaccines brought to market by the pharmaceutical companies themselves are subject to the legal provisions that apply to the distribution of medicinal products in Germany.

COVID certificates

Are digital vaccination certificates still issued upon request?

It was only possible to issue COVID-19 vaccination certificates until the end of 2023.

Issue of COVID-19 vaccination certificates is only possible until the end of 2023.

Are digital COVID-19 vaccination certificates still needed for specific journeys abroad?

Meanwhile, there are no requirements to present a vaccination certificate when travelling within Germany or upon entry. In the other EU member states and in the large majority of third countries, SARS-CoV-2-related entry restrictions no longer apply. For furnishing proof when travelling, we recommend taking the “yellow vaccination booklet”.

It is also recommended to find out about the local provisions in place at your destination before travelling (e.g. travel and safety advisories by the Federal Foreign Office, German).

Side effects and vaccine injury law

Last change: 15. February 2024

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