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Germany worried about covid-19 vaccination ‘no shows’

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A rising number of Germans arenot showing up for COVID-19 vaccination appointments, promptingcalls for fines to be imposed as Germany races to get shots inarms to counter the rapid spread of the more infectious Deltavariant.
Mario Czaja, head of the Berlin Red Cross, said 5%-10% ofpeople were skipping appointments at the city’s vaccinationcentres – with second doses particularly affected – up from ano-show rate of less than 0.5% at the start of the year.
With around 15,000 vaccinations planned per day at thecentres, the number of wasted appointments is having a “massiveeffect on Berlin’s vaccination coverage”, Czaja toldDeutschlandfunk radio on Monday.
“We need the free slots. We are still not out of the woodsand we can’t afford to be negligent,” he said, urging people tocancel their appointments if they managed to get a second doseearlier elsewhere.
Despite the missed appointments, Czaja said the centres havenot had to discard vaccines as, once thawed, they can be storedfor three to four days in fridges.
People might be skipping second shots because they have beenvaccinated by their family or company doctor, or may be onholiday, Christian Fuellers, medical director of a vaccinationcentre in North Rhine-Westphalia, told ARD television.
Young men in particular also appear to think getting onedose will be sufficient, he added.
Whatever the reasons, no-shows pose a headache to Germany’splan to speed up vaccinations to try and get ahead of the morecontagious Delta variant, now responsible for half of Germancoronavirus cases and expected to dominate later this month.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel wants Germany to achieve avaccination rate of 80%, a participant in a meeting of herparty’s executive committee told Reuters.
Around 39% of Germans have now received the recommended twoshots, while 56.5% has had at least one dose.
Germany, Europe’s most populous country and largest economy,is expected to receive a bumper delivery of 7.65 million dosesthis week, according to Health Ministry data, of which 4.95million are destined for its vaccination centres.
But the seven-day daily average of administered shotsslumped last week to 701,998 per day, down almost 18% on thedaily average seen in the second week of June.
Czaja has suggested that a fine of between 25-30 euros($30-36) be levied on those who miss appointments. But othershave warned that such action could be counterproductive.
“Instead of thinking about penalties, we should think aboutwhat we can do to keep vaccinations up,” Reinhard Sager,president of the German Association of Districts, told Die Welt.
German government spokesman Steffen Seibert said on Mondaypenalties for vaccination no-shows were not envisaged.
Elsewhere, countries from the United States to Russia haveintroduced incentives, such as cash or the opportunity to win acar or an apartment, to try to boost vaccine take-up. SomeRussian regions have also introduced compulsory vaccination forsome workers.($