The German government is not planning to make coronavirus vaccination mandatory, Health Minister Jens Spahn said on Wednesday.

“During my speech at the parliament, I gave my word. There will be no compulsory vaccination during this pandemic,” Spahn told public radio Deutschlandfunk.

“We rely on arguments, on information and trust in the vaccine,” he added.

His remarks came after southern German state of Bavaria suggested to make the vaccination mandatory for specific professions, such as care workers in nursing homes, amid reports that many of them refused to take the coronavirus vaccine.

Germany began administering the BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine to residents and staff at nursing homes late last month, a few days after the vaccine was approved by the EU. As of Tuesday, nearly 689,000 doses were administered across the country.

Priority groups

According to the government’s vaccination strategy, the first vaccines are offered to the residents of care and nursing homes, frontline health and social care workers, and adults over age of 80.

Once the inoculation of the top priority group would be completed, the vaccination campaign will continue with other groups.

The second priority group identified by the ministry included adults over the age of 70, people with dementia, and transplant patients.

People over 60 years old, chronically ill patients, and public sector employees working under high risk were included in the third priority group.

The government is predicting that nearly 60 percent of the German population will get access to a COVID-19 vaccine by autumn this year. 

Vaccine acceptance rates

A recent poll by public broadcaster ARD has shown that majority of the population is willing to be vaccinated.

Among those surveyed, 75% of participants reported that they would be very or somewhat likely to take a COVID-19 vaccine.

As many as 11% said they would probably not take a coronavirus vaccine, while 12% of the respondents said they will never be vaccinated for COVID-19.

Germany currently has the fifth-highest tally of coronavirus infections in Western Europe, behind the UK, France, Italy and Spain.

Health authorities reported 1,060 deaths over the past 24 hours, and 19,600 new cases.

The national tally now stands at over 1.95 million cases, with at least 42,637 deaths.

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