Covid-19 immunization update Cross-vaccinations now recommended in NRW
Düsseldorf/Berlin · The Standing Commission on Vaccination (Stiko) is now recommending that people get an mRNA vaccine as their second dose even after receiving Astrazeneca as their first dose. As a result, physicians are expecting a flood of patients who want to change their second vaccine.
North Rhine-Westphalia and other German states want to quickly implement the recommendation of the Standing Commission on Vaccination (Stiko) for people to get their second vaccine from Biontech or Moderna even after they have had a first vaccination of Astrazeneca. This was agreed on Friday by the health ministers of the federal and state governments. Administering an mRNA vaccine as a second dose should begin immediately throughout the country, said Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn (CDU) after the consultations. These cross-vaccinations are particularly effective, he said, adding that more and more doses of the mRNA vaccines Biontech and Moderna are now available.
With its new recommendation, the Stiko had taken doctors and politicians by surprise. "This comes as a great surprise to the vaccination centers as well as to the physicians in private practice," explained Andreas Daniel, spokesman for the Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians (KV) Westphalia. Many doctors had contacted the KV because the vaccine for the next week had to be ordered by last Tuesday, of course still with a high share of Astrazeneca.
The National Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians (KBV) now expects a flood of patients who want a different vaccine or - if not possible - want to reschedule their appointment. "The proposal by the Stiko to increase vaccination protection by administering an mRNA vaccine as the second vaccine following a first vaccine of Astrazeneca and at the same time significantly shortening the vaccination interval came as a great surprise. This will trigger a renewed rush on the practices," said KBV head Andreas Gassen. The Düsseldorf-based orthopedist calls for the federal and state governments to now provide a sufficient number of the Biontech and Moderna vaccines. "In the next few weeks, more than three million Astrazenca second vaccinations are due in the practices.” Jens Spahn also criticized the Stiko, saying that the new recommendation would initially confuse people and that science and politics would have to communicate better. The Stiko recommends an interval of only four weeks between the second and first vaccination.
Chancellor Angela Merkel has already been the recipient of cross-vaccination. She was first vaccinated with Astrazeneca and then with Moderna. SPD health expert Karl Lauterbach has also been cross-vaccinated. "I can only promote opting for cross-vaccination and have done so myself with the combination Astrazenca and Biontech," Lauterbach told our editorial team. The effect of cross-vaccination is comparable to that of mRNA-only vaccination, he said.
The Stiko remains adamant about vaccinating children. It wants to continue to adhere to the restrictions and recommends vaccination only for children with pre-existing conditions. "At the moment, there is no reason for a sudden change, even if this is sometimes demanded," Stiko head Thomas Mertens told "Der Spiegel." He added that no increased illness in children had been detected with the Delta variant.
Leading specialists in intensive care medicine, meanwhile, have called for the retention of vaccination centers and urged the federal and state governments not to focus solely on incidence levels in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic. "We need a renewed increase in the pace of vaccination in Germany. It now depends on every fully vaccinated person to give the Delta variant as little attack surface as possible," Christian Karagiannidis, president of the German Society for Internal Intensive Care and Emergency Medicine (DGIIN), told our editorial team.