Queue-jumping Germans fake details to get Covid vaccines

Hamburg foiled 2,000 attempts at deception in the space of a week

People receive coronavirus vaccines in Cologne, Germany, on Sunday. Getty Images 
People receive coronavirus vaccines in Cologne, Germany, on Sunday. Getty Images 

Queue-jumping Germans are trying to get their hands on coronavirus vaccines by lying about their age or claiming they have an urgent need for a shot.

One vaccination centre in Hamburg foiled 2,000 such attempts in the space of a week, German media reported.

While Germany’s vaccination campaign has picked up pace in recent weeks, two-thirds of the population is still waiting for a first dose.

“It’s interesting what people come up with,” Werner Boecking, a vaccination manager in the town of Neuwied, told the news programme Report Mainz.

“Sometimes people lie about their age, suddenly they all have a particularly relevant job in critical infrastructure or they’re looking after a neighbour.”

Germany last week lifted all age limits on the AstraZeneca vaccine, and on Monday did the same for the Johnson & Johnson shot.

But the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are still subject to age prioritisation, and Germany last week introduced new freedoms for vaccinated people.

One common trick, researchers said, was to pose as a close contact of a vulnerable patient such as a pregnant woman or a person receiving care. Such a person can theoretically name two people as close contacts who would then be eligible for an early vaccine. But in one case uncovered by Report Mainz, eight healthy people managed to get a vaccine by claiming they were close contacts of the same person.

As well as the 2,000 queue-jumping attempts in Hamburg, there were about 350 in Munich and 140 in Saarbruecken, the programme said.

“Some of these people know full well that they’re not eligible, and still try to get vaccinated,” said Martin Helfrich, a spokesman for Hamburg’s social affairs ministry.

Vaccinated people get new freedoms in Germany

Under national measures introduced in April, areas of Germany with an infection rate above 100 new cases per 100,000 people in a week are required to impose curfews.

However, the curfews no longer apply to people who have been fully vaccinated or who have recovered from Covid-19 infection.

Announcing the exemptions, Justice Minster Christine Lambrecht said there needed to be a "good reason" for any restrictions on public life.

"As soon as this reason ceases to exist ... these restrictions should then no longer be in place," she said.

About eight million people have been fully vaccinated, or just under 10 per cent of Germany’s population.

Germany faced months of difficulty in acquiring doses, partly linked to the EU’s feud with AstraZeneca over delayed vaccine shipments.

Authorities also struggled to persuade the public to take the AstraZeneca shot after questions over its efficacy and fears over blood clots.

However, the vaccination campaign started gathering pace in March and administered a million doses in a day for the first time on April 28.

A gradual decline in infection rates led Health Minister Jens Spahn to declare last week that the third wave "appears to have broken".

Published: May 12, 2021 12:09 PM

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