Discover more from eugyppius: a plague chronicle
Who was responsible for the draft resolution, circulated among the state health ministers of Germany, demanding the vaccination of teenagers contrary to regulatory advice?
Some final notes on the 2021 campaign to vaccinate German children and the importance of 28 July.
I must make a correction to yesterday’s post on the bizarre campaign to vaccinate German children against the recommendations of regulators and in the absence of all evidence. It is important enough to warrant a post of its own, because it reinforces my thesis that the last days of July were the key moment, when the German political establishment decided to proceed with the mass vaccination of teenagers against the advice of their own Standing Committee on Vaccination.
eugyppius: a plague chronicle is a reader-supported publication. maybe you subscribe?
I wrote, incorrectly, that the Berlin Senator for Health, Care and Equity Dilek Kalayci wrote to 180,000 Berlin school children aged 12–17 urging them to be vaccinated towards the middle of August. This is when the press reported on her letter, but she actually wrote it considerably earlier, on 28 July 2021. I have found the full text of this bizarre document on Twitter (h/t Verlag Thomas Kubo); for historical reasons, and because the text deserves much more scrutiny, I provide a complete translation at the end of this post.
28 July is also exactly the day when the Minister President of Brandenburg, Dietmar Woidke, called on STIKO to widen their recommendation and advise the vaccination for all teenagers. The next day, his Minister of Education, Britta Ernst, echoed these demands. Also on 29 July, the leading Green politician Robert Habeck said that STIKO “should get a bit of a move on,” and that “Just saying we don’t have enough data, we can’t comment on it, isn’t the right attitude given the urgency of the situation.” The entire state of Baden-Württemberg, also on 29 July, declared that they would prioritise adolescent vaccinations in their vaccination centres throughout their summer school holiday. This country-wide campaign was driven by the looming end of the school holidays, and by preparations for a meeting of state health ministers and Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn that took place on 2 August.
That the German states would proceed to vaccinate teenagers against STIKO advice had already been decided before anybody met. We know this, because the corresponding resolution was leaked to the press in advance to increase public pressure on STIKO:
The health ministries of the federal states apparently want to offer more Covid-19 vaccinations for children and adolescents aged 12 and over in future. This is according to a draft resolution for the Health Ministers’ Conference on Monday …
According to the document, the heads of the federal state ministries, together with Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn (CDU), want to decide that all federal states will offer vaccinations for 12- to 17-year-olds in vaccination centres, ensuring medical information and parental consent. In addition, authorised family doctors and paediatricians as well as company doctors should also be able to carry out the vaccinations as part of the vaccination of employees’ relatives.
Vaccinations for children and adolescents are “not at all as risky as many people fear,” said the Chairman of the Conference of Minister Presidents, Berlin’s Governing Mayor Michael Müller (SPD), on Monday's ARD “Morgenmagazin” programme. The fact that the federal and state health ministers now want to push ahead with vaccinations for this age group is “very appropriate,” Müller said.
It was after the 2 August meeting that STIKO began signalling they would give in. Where the draft resolution came from, and who authored it, is obviously the most important question here. My wild theory would be that the resolution came from Jens Spahn, that he circulated it to state health ministries in the last days of July, and that this is what inspired the sudden demands to vaccinate teenagers beginning on 28 July. Whatever the case, it is very intriguing that neither Britta Ernst nor anybody else wants to talk clearly and on the record about these crucial events, and where the specific plan to jab teenagers against scientific advice originated.
Here is the full text of Kalayci’s letter to Berlin teenagers, asking them to get vaccinated contrary to STIKO advice:
Berlin, 28 July 2021
Invitation and information on vaccination against SARS-CoV-2 (Corona vaccination)
Dear young Berliners,
You are the generation that has had to put up with huge cuts and restrictions as a result of the pandemic – in your free time, but also in your education. Thank you for being so brave and making the best of it.
I would like to inform you about vaccination.
The Covid pandemic has brought many restrictions for all of us and especially for your lives. Unfortunately, the race against Corona has not yet been won!
We have learned a lot in recent months and we now know that vaccination against Covid-19 is effective, protects lives and prevents severe disease. Vaccination can also prevent the virus from spreading to other people.
With our vaccination campaign, we have so far been able to reach and vaccinate older people and especially people with preexisting conditions. We can see that high vaccination rates save lives, particularly in reducing the number of deaths in care homes and among the elderly population. Your grandparents in particular were at risk and were prioritised for vaccination. That was good, but it is still not enough!
The Covid vaccine provides triple protection:
-For you yourself,
-for the people you meet and
-for all of society, that is all of us!
This is because each individual vaccination removes a person through whom the virus might spread. This means that the more people get vaccinated, the less chance the virus has of spreading and infecting other people.
We want to enable a return to a a mostly normal life. This also includes schools operating with as few infections and restrictions as possible.
STIKO (the Standing Committee on Vaccination) is a group of experts that makes recommendations on vaccinations in Germany. It has not yet generally recommended the vaccination for your age group, for those 12 years of age and older. Not much was known about the consequences and the side-effects at the time of the recommendation. STIKO were therefore cautious and have not yet issued a general recommendation for vaccination at your age. In the meantime, around 10 million children and adolescents aged 12 and over have been vaccinated worldwide.
In Germany, the vaccines from BioNTech and Moderna have also been tested and authorised for your age group.
You can be vaccinated by a doctor at your own request in consultation with your parents or legal representatives.
Vaccination is free and voluntary. Two vaccinations at intervals of three or four weeks are required for complete immunisation.
If you decide to get vaccinated, several Berlin Covid vaccination centres are available for you to be vaccinated – even without booking an appointment in advance.
If you are under the age of 16, a legal representative must accompany you to the vaccination centre; if you are 16 or older, it is sufficient to bring a declaration of consent signed by your legal representative.
You can make two appointments for your vaccination online at https://service.berlin.de/corona or by calling 030 9028 2220. Please bring your identity card or passport as well as your vaccination card with you to the vaccination, if you have it.
The vaccination centres also offer the option of dropping by for vaccination at certain times without making an appointment (so-called “walk-in vaccination” - more information on this is available online or via the vaccination hotline).
You can also obtain information about the vaccines from your doctor or on the internet at https://service.berlin.de/corona.
The Berlin Corona Vaccination Hotline is also available to provide you with information: Telephone no. 030 9028 2200
Monday - Sunday from 7:00 am to 6:00 pm
I would also like to thank you for shouldering the burden of homeschooling so far and for putting up with all the restrictions that this terrible pandemic has caused.
I ask you to get yourself vaccinated if you have not done so already. Please encourage all adult contacts of your child to get vaccinated. We need comprehensive immunisation to combat the pandemic!
I am glad that we now have enough vaccine to offer vaccines to every Berliner. Please seize this opportunity! Because unfortunately the race against corona has not yet been won! The start of school and autumn are just around the corner. Our window of opportunity is narrowing with each passing day. Please help to ensure that our children do not bring infections from home into schools and cause further chains of infection.
I wish your families all the best. Please take care of their health!
With best regards
Senator for Health, Care and Equality
The old suggestion about vaccination even without parental consent, present in Cornelia Betsch’s pro-vaccination flyer of 14 July 2021, has been dropped. Parental consent was also an explicit requirement in the draft resolution circulated to the media, so we can presume that the political calculations had shifted by this point. The rest of the argument remains the same. There is the quiet implication that kids need to get vaccinated to protect their grandparents, the unsupported suggestion that the benefits outweigh the risks and the familiar anxiety about infections linked specifically to the start of the school year.
eugyppius: a plague chronicle is a reader-supported publication. maybe you subscribe?