Merkel Gets AstraZeneca Shot as German Vaccination Drive Gathers Pace

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Chancellor Angela Merkel got her first shot of the AstraZeneca Plc Covid-19 vaccine on Friday as Germany’s immunization drive continued to gather pace after a sluggish start.

“I am delighted to have received the first vaccination with AstraZeneca today,” Merkel said in a statement published by a spokesman. “I thank everyone who is involved in the vaccination campaign -- and everyone who gets vaccinated.”

Vice Chancellor and Finance Minister Olaf Scholz announced earlier that he was also due to get the AstraZeneca shot Friday, with both opting for the company’s vaccine despite possible links to rare blood clots that have led to its use being limited in some countries, including Germany.

Germany has now administered more than 20 million Covid shots since inoculation began at the end of last year. About 18.5% of the population have had at least one dose, and the government has pledged to offer at least an initial shot to everyone who wants one by the end of the summer.

“It’s going very, very quickly,” Health Minister Jens Spahn said Friday, adding that the beginning of vaccinating in doctors’ offices, instead of only in large centers, has made a “decisive difference.” One-third of Germans will be able to get their first dose by the end of May, he said.

Large companies in Germany are also starting to inoculate workers using their medical staff, in line with existing prioritization categories, Spahn said.

Broader vaccination will begin at German companies by the end of the second quarter, he said -- another potential boost to the country’s campaign.

Merkel earlier on Friday defended her bid to take greater control over Germany’s coronavirus restrictions to break a “very serious” wave of infections. Speaking in the Bundestag, she pushed back against opposition to a law that would give the federal government the authority to impose local restrictions such as nighttime curfews.

“Vaccination is the key to overcoming the pandemic,” she said in the tweet.

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