Current information on coronavirus vaccination

Here you can find answers to the most important questions on COVID-19 vaccination.

Basic knowledge

Who can get vaccinated?

In Germany, anyone aged 6 months or over can, as a rule, get vaccinated against COVID-19. At this point, there are also authorised mRNA COVID-19 vaccines available for babies and small children from the age of six months up to four or five years.

According to estimates by the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), only very few people cannot get vaccinated against COVID-19. As with any other immunisation, you should only get the COVID-19 vaccine after the doctor has thoroughly checked your medical history. Here it is important to raise any potential concerns or allergies with the doctor administering the vaccine. In any case, you should observe the current expert information and instructions for use.

What does the Coronavirus Vaccination Ordinance regulate?

In general, the Coronavirus Vaccination Ordinance (CoronaImpfV) regulates who is eligible for vaccination against the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, what services this entitlement comprises and determines the group of individual service providers. The Coronavirus Vaccination Ordinance also specifies notification obligations, the remuneration amount as well as billing rules for service providers.

Until when will I be entitled to vaccination under the Coronavirus Vaccination Ordinance?

The entitlement to vaccination against the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus under the Coronavirus Vaccination Ordinance was extended until the expiry of 7 April 2023. This extension ensures that low-threshold COVID-19 vaccinations will remain available over the coming winter months. Amid the ongoing pandemic, the seamless availability of vaccines and vaccination services is required particularly in an effort to prevent severe illness and protect the healthcare system. Subsequently, vaccination against the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus is to be transferred into standard care.

Where can you get vaccinated?

In Germany, sufficient vaccine doses are available for everyone. There is a country-wide, diverse range of vaccination services to ensure easy universal access to the COVID-19 vaccine. A large proportion of COVID-19 vaccinations is carried out in the office-based physician sector. Company doctors, public pharmacies or correspondingly trained dentists also administer COVID-19 vaccines in their practices. Furthermore, the Federal Länder can provide local vaccination centres and low-threshold vaccination opportunities.

Liability

Who is liable in case of health-related harm as a result of the vaccine?

The Protection against Infection Act clarifies that a claim to damages – regulated uniformly at the federal level – exists with respect to any harm to people’s health that has occurred in connection with the vaccinations performed since 27 December 2020 on the basis of the Coronavirus Vaccination Ordinance (CoronaImpfV). This claim exists irrespective of the Land authorities’ public recommendations.

Who is liable in case of health-related harm as a result of the children’s vaccine against COVID-19?

>> see "Children’s vaccination"

Immunisation

How many vaccinations are required to be considered “fully vaccinated”?

As of 19 March 2022, the Protection against Infection Act (section 22a) (in German) stipulates the conditions that need to be met to count as fully vaccinated.

As of 1 October 2022, you are fully vaccinated:

  • after three vaccine doses (receiving the last vaccine dose at least three months after the second vaccine dose),
  • after two vaccine doses:
    • AND a positive antibody test preceding the first vaccine dose
    • OR a previous SARS-CoV-2 infection verified by a PCR test before receiving the second vaccine dose
    • OR a previous SARS-CoV-2 infection verified by a PCR test after receiving the second vaccine dose; at least 28 days must have passed since testing.

Boosters

Who is recommended a first booster?

The Standing Committee on Vaccination (STIKO) recommends a first booster for anyone aged twelve or over who has received a basic immunisation.

According to the STIKO’s recommendations, immunocompetent people should maintain an interval of at least six months between completing the basic immunisation and their first booster. In specific justified cases, this interval can be reduced to four months following medical consultation.

Furthermore, after completing the basic immunisation, children between the ages of five and eleven with pre-existing conditions should wait at least six months before receiving their first booster.

Which vaccines should be used in the initial booster?

Children aged between five and eleven years are recommended by the Standing Committee on Vaccination (STIKO) for their first booster the Omicron-adapted Cominarty vaccine. In this age group, the booster is only recommended for children with pre-existing conditions.

With regard to all boosters for persons aged twelve or over, the STIKO preferentially recommends an available authorised bivalent mRNA vaccine adapted to Omicron. From the age of twelve and over, “Comirnaty Original/Omicron BA.1” or “Comirnaty Original/Omicron BA.4-5” should be used. For those aged 30 or over, both currently available mRNA vaccines adapted to Omicron (Comirnaty and Spikevax) are equally suitable as a booster.

People are considered “boostered” as of the day they receive their first booster (third vaccine dose/booster). 

Who is recommended a second booster?

The Standing Committee on Vaccination (STIKO) recommends a second booster for the following groups of people:

  • People aged 60 or over
  • Residents of long-term care facilities as well as people with an increased risk of severe disease progression in integration assistance service facilities
  • Employees at medical facilities and long-term care facilities, above all those in direct contact with patients and/or residents
  • People aged five or older with an immunodeficiency or increased risk of severe COVID-19 illness as a result of a pre-existing condition

Analogous to the indication-based vaccination against influenza, pre-existing conditions also include the following: 

  • Chronic diseases of the respiratory organs (including bronchial asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, COPD)
  • Chronic cardiovascular, hepatic and renal disease
  • Diabetes mellitus and other metabolic diseases
  • Chronic neurological diseases
  • Congenital or acquired immunodeficiency (including patients with neoplastic diseases)
  • HIV infection

As with the first booster, for the second booster preferably an Omicron-adapted mRNA vaccine authorised to the respective age group should be used.

When should the second booster (fourth vaccine dose) be administered?

The second booster should be administered no sooner than six months after the first booster. In specific justified cases, this interval can be shortened to four months. 

Even following a SARS-CoV-2 infection, there should generally be an interval of six months before receiving a booster. If a SARS-CoV-2 infection occurred after the first booster, there should be an interval of six months between the infection and the second booster.

The following applies specifically to people with an immunodeficiency: They should receive their second booster within an interval of at least three months to the first booster.

In the future, might even more than two boosters be required?

Among older people, it can indeed make sense to administer an additional (i.e. fifth) vaccine dose on account of immuno-senescence, if more than six months have passed since the second booster. This may also concern people with an increased risk of severe COVID-19 illness as a result of an underlying illness. Whether or not this is indicated should be determined by considering your state of health and level of risk, and only together with a doctor you trust.

More information on the booster can be found on our website zusammengegencorona.de.

Additional special requirements need to be observed when vaccinating people with immune deficiencies. In this case, we refer to the “STIKO recommendation on COVID-19 vaccination of people with immune deficiency (ID)” (table on page 15 and 16 in the document) (in German).

Children’s vaccination

Which children and adolescents are recommended to get vaccinated against COVID-19?

Age-specific requirements apply to the COVID-19 vaccination of babies, children and adolescents.

The Standing Committee on Vaccination (STIKO) has issued a recommendation for vaccinating children with pre-existing conditions between the ages of six months and four years. Following an individual risk assessment as part of a medical consultation, a basic immunisation can also be administered to healthy children if there are people in their immediate environment at high risk of a severe COVID-19 progression, who cannot get vaccinated themselves.

The STIKO recommends all healthy five to eleven-year-olds be initially administered one vaccine dose. Among all children aged five to eleven, preferably BioNTech/Pfizer’s children’s vaccine should be used.

Children aged between five and eleven, who are at increased risk of severe COVID-19 illness on account of pre-existing conditions, are recommended a basic immunisation with two vaccine doses as well as a booster. Furthermore, a second booster should be given at least six months after the latest vaccine dose or SARS-CoV-2 infection (see “Who is recommended a second booster (fourth vaccine dose)?”)

In this age group, healthy children are also to receive two vaccine doses as part of their basic immunisation if they are in close contact with people who are at increased risk of severe COVID-19 illness and who cannot get vaccinated themselves or where there is reason to suspect that vaccination may not afford them adequate protection (e.g. people who are undergoing immunosuppressive therapy). Furthermore, following medical consultation it is possible to receive a basic immunisation with two vaccine doses if, in the individual case, the children and parents have so requested.

Children and adolescents aged between twelve and seventeen years are recommended COVID-19 vaccination with two vaccine doses using the Cominarty (BioNTech/Pfizer) mRNA vaccine. In addition, a booster should be given.

Moreover, an occupational indication exists for the vaccination of adolescents who are at increased risk of exposure due to their work or because they are in close contact with vulnerable groups.

Additional differences apply with regard to vaccinating people with immune deficiencies. Here we refer to the “STIKO’s recommendation on COVID-19 vaccination of people with immune deficiency (ID)” (table on page 15 and 16 in the document) (in German).

COVID-19 vaccination is a sensitive issue for many parents. That is why the local vaccination centres also offer various opportunities for consultation by doctors.

Where can children get vaccinated against COVID-19?

Sufficient vaccine doses are available to vaccinate all children in Germany. Parents who wish to get their children vaccinated can contact the paediatric practices. If available within your Federal Land, vaccination centres and local vaccination events are also available for parents and their children. Relevant information can be found on the local authorities’ information pages.

What potential side effects can the children’s vaccination have?

During the marketing authorisation study, many children reported temporary vaccination reactions for one or two days, particularly after the second vaccine dose.

These were often pain around the injection site, headaches and tiredness. A number of children had some reddening or swelling around the injection site. Moreover, some children had fever, diarrhoea, shivering as well as muscular and joint pain.

Since the vaccine roll-out, in extremely rare cases, anaphylactic reactions (immediate allergic reactions) have been reported. These occurred shortly after the vaccine was administered and had to be medically treated. Similarly, after receiving the mRNA vaccine, in very rare cases myocarditis and pericarditis were observed among children and adolescents as well as adults.

Information on possible side effects can also be found in the vaccine’s information texts (expert information and instructions for use) that can be accessed at the Paul Ehrlich Institute (PEI) website.

Who is liable in case of health-related harm as a result of children’s vaccination against COVID-19?

The Second Act Amending the Protection Against Infection Act clarifies that in section 60 of the IfSG a claim to damages – regulated uniformly at the federal level – exists with respect to any harm to people’s health that has occurred in connection with the vaccinations performed since 27 December 2020 on the basis of the Coronavirus Vaccination Ordinance. This claim exists irrespective of the Land authorities’ public recommendations. This liability also applies to children’s vaccination.

Facility-based obligation to vaccinate

What do I need to know about the vaccine mandate in particular health and care facilities?

Staff employed, for instance, at hospitals, nursing homes, doctors’ surgeries and emergency services must present their employer before expiry of 15 March 2022 with proof of a completed vaccination, of recovery or with a medical certificate stating that they may not get vaccinated. Employers need to inform the competent public health office if certificates are not submitted in a timely manner or if there is any doubt regarding the certificates’ authenticity or accuracy. The public health office can prohibit employment at – or access to – facilities where an obligation to submit proof applies. From 1 October 2022, as a rule a person must have received three vaccine doses to be considered “fully vaccinated”.

The facility-based obligation to vaccinate no longer applies with expiry of 31 December 2022.

Everything you need to know on this topic can be found on our website zusammengegencorona.de and in our Handbook on preventive vaccination with regard to facilities’ internal activities (in German). (PDF, not accessible, 463 KB)

Vaccines

What vaccines are administered in Germany?

The following COVID-19 vaccines are currently available in Germany:

  • Comirnaty by BioNTech/Pfizer (including bivalent vaccines adapted to Omicron-variants (Comirnaty Original/Omicron BA.1 and Comirnaty Original/Omicron BA.4-5))
  • Spikevax by Moderna (including bivalent vaccines adapted to Omicron-variants (Spikevax bivalent Original/Omicron BA.1 and Spikevax bivalent Original/Omicron BA.4-5))
  • COVID-19 Janssen vaccine (new name: Jcovden) by Janssen (Johnson & Johnson)
  • Nuvaxovid by Novavax
  • COVID-19 Valneva vaccine by Valneva
  • VidPrevtyn Beta by Sanofi Pasteur (planned availability to service providers: as of the third calendar week of 2023)

Information regarding use can also be found in the vaccine’s information texts (expert information and instructions for use) that can be accessed at the Paul Ehrlich Institute (PEI) website.

Which age groups are recommended a vaccine?

The Standing Committee on Vaccination (STIKO) recommends:

  • Comirnaty® for vaccine-eligible people over the age of 6 months (in a special pharmaceutical form with adjusted dosages for infants and children up to four years or children from five to eleven years old)
  • Spikevax for people aged 30 or over who may get vaccinated
  • COVID-19 Janssen vaccine (new name: Jcovden) for people aged 60 or over who may get vaccinated
  • Nuvaxovid for people aged 12 or over who may get vaccinated
  • Valneva for people between the ages of 18 and 50 who may get vaccinated

The vaccines adapted to Omicron are only authorised for the booster and should preferably be used for the booster in a formulation authorised for that respective age group.

Johnson & Johnson

What applies to people vaccinated with Johnson & Johnson?

In the meantime, everyone in Germany who received one dose of COVID-19 Vaccine Janssen (new name: Jcovden) now requires a second dose to be considered fully vaccinated in line with section 22a of the Protection against Infection Act. Only every subsequent vaccine dose is then classed as a booster in Germany. To qualify as proof of booster vaccination in Germany, three vaccine doses are therefore also required with COVID-19 Janssen vaccine (new name: Jcovden). The booster is deemed valid immediately without a waiting period.

Here too, it should be noted that, since 1 October 2022 a booster (in other words, a 3rd vaccine dose) is required to be considered “fully vaccinated”, see the question “How many vaccinations are required to be considered 'fully vaccinated'?

How soon can you receive a booster (3rd vaccine dose) after receiving the COVID-19 Vaccine Janssen (new name: Jcovden)?

A distinction should be drawn between the basic immunisation (in the meantime, two vaccine doses are required in Germany) and the booster. A booster can be administered after two doses of COVID-19 Vaccine Janssen (new name: Jcovden) or one dose of COVID-19 Vaccine Janssen and another dose of an mRNA vaccine, if the basic immunisation was completed at least 3 months beforehand.

COVID certificates (proof of recovery and vaccination)

How long are certificates of recovery valid within Germany?

They are valid for 90 days (section 22a (2) number 2 of the Protection against Infection Act - IfSG) within Germany. This period of time is in alignment with EU Regulation 2021/953 concerning digital COVID certificates, according to which certificates of recovery may only be valid at the earliest eleven days and at most 180 days after the first positive test result.

What applies to people entering Germany who have recovered from COVID-19?

In the context of entry into Germany, the recovery certificate is also valid for a period of 90 days, since the EU has stipulated certificates be recognised as valid for a maximum period of 180 days. This means that the “recovered” status can also be shortened at national level. People entering the country whose most recent positive PCR test result is over 90 days old are therefore considered as unvaccinated. The Federal Government has informed the EU Commission and the other member states of this.

How long is proof of vaccination valid within Germany?

Until 30 September 2022, vaccination certificates issued after receiving the second vaccine dose are considered proof of a “fully vaccinated” status. As of 1 October 2022, as a rule a booster (third vaccine dose) is required to be considered “fully vaccinated”, see question “How many vaccine doses are required to be considered “fully vaccinated”?”.

Has the EU limited the validity period of vaccination certificates?

Yes, with its EU Regulation 2021/2288 of 21 December 2021. With its so-called Delegated Act on the EU’s digital vaccination certificate, the EU Commission has set an acceptance period of 270 days following completion of the basic immunisation. However, this period only applies for cross-border travel. The EU’s digital vaccination certificate regains validity as soon as a booster is registered, irrespective of the interval to the basic immunisation. These EU provisions do not apply for other vaccination certificates such as the yellow WHO vaccination booklet or for domestic use.

As of what date does the EU’s limitation to 270 days apply when travelling?

The Commission’s delegated act applies as of 1 February 2022. An EU-issued digital vaccination certificate, where the latest vaccine dose to complete a basic immunisation was administered over 270 days ago, is no longer valid. Example: EU digital vaccination certificates that indicate that the basic immunisation’s last vaccine dose was administered 6 May 2021 or later will successively expire over the coming weeks and months if no booster has been administered since 1 February 2022. The EU Commission had combined its relevant decision of 21 December 2021 with a call to member states to ensure the availability and access to additional vaccine doses. The Federal Government complied with this request and has endeavoured for considerable time to further increase the number of people who have received boosters.

Are there any exemptions from this 270-day limit?

Another EU delegated act stipulates that minors under the age of 18 do not require a booster after 270 days have passed since completing their first vaccination series (two vaccine doses). Their vaccination certificates are therefore valid indefinitely for cross-border travel as soon as they complete their basic immunisation.

In addition, the member states should specifically consider the people living in their border regions who may often need to cross borders. Until further notice, the Federal Government will therefore not apply the 270-day period to this group when crossing borders. This includes both cross-border commuters and border crossers. Cross-border commuters and border crossers are recommended to carry with them the relevant documents.

What does the EU’s time limitation mean for holidaymakers?

Holidaymakers with an EU digital vaccination certificate are subject to the EU’s 270-day time limitation. Using the date of their second vaccine dose, they should check whether their EU digital vaccination certificate is still valid when crossing the border or whether they fall under any of the exemptions. To better protect against COVID-19, the Federal Government recommends getting a third vaccine dose at the earliest possible date and has accordingly secured the availability of and access to sufficient vaccine doses.

Vaccination at pharmacies

Besides doctors’ surgeries, company doctors, vaccination centres and other service providers, pharmacies are also actively supporting the vaccination campaign in Germany. Find out what you need to know about booking and getting a COVID-19 vaccination at zusammengegencorona.de.

Side effects

When do the known side effects occur?

Typical symptoms (known as vaccine reactions) following a vaccination include reddening, swelling and pain at the injection site, but also more general reactions such as fever, headache, aching limbs and malaise are possible. These reactions are a desired effect, showing that the immune system is responding to the vaccine; they usually resolve completely after a few days.

Details concerning the type and frequency of the potential side effects can be found in the product information (expert information and instructions for use) of each vaccine (can also be found, for instance, on the Paul Ehrlich Institute (PEI) website).

If you suspect you may have potential side effects, you should consult a doctor. You can also report suspected side effects to the PEI at www.nebenwirkungen.bund.de.

What potential side effects can the children’s vaccination have?

>> see “Children's vaccination”

Liability

Who is liable in case of harm to people’s health due to the vaccine?

The Protection against Infection Act clarifies that a claim to damages – regulated uniformly at the federal level – exists with respect to any harm to people’s health that has occurred in connection with the vaccinations performed since 27 December 2020 on the basis of the Ordinance on Coronavirus Entry Regulations. This claim exists irrespective of the Land authorities’ official recommendations.

Who is liable in case of harm to people’s health on account of the children’s vaccine against COVID-19?

>> see "Children’s vaccination"

Donations

How many vaccine doses is Germany donating?

Germany has committed to support COVAX, the global vaccination initiative. Whenever vaccine doses are not required for the national campaign, they are offered to the COVAX initiative. In 2021 and 2022, around 136 million vaccine doses were transferred to COVAX. In addition, the Federal Government bilaterally donated approximately 10 million doses to six different countries. This means over 146 million doses were donated in total.

Further vaccine doses are to be donated in 2023.

The total number of vaccine doses transferred to COVAX from each vaccine manufacturer are listed as follows:

  • BioNTech: 11.7m doses
  • Moderna: 48m doses
  • Johnson & Johnson: 44.1m doses
  • AstraZeneca: 32.3m doses

An overview of the recipient countries can be found on the Federal Foreign Office’s website, which is leading these efforts.

Last change: 31. December 2022
Please note
Dear Sir or Madam, unfortunately you are using a browser version that is no longer supported by the Federal Ministry of Health. In order to use the offer and all functions in full reception, please update your browser to the latest version of Chrome, Firefox, Safari or Edge. For security reasons, Internet Explorer is not supported.