German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier received the COVID-19 vaccine developed by AstraZeneca on April 1.
“I trust the vaccines approved in Germany,” the 65-year-old president said in a statement posted on his official Facebook page, along with a photo of himself receiving the shot in an attempt to encourage citizens to get vaccinated.
“Vaccination is the crucial step on the way out of the pandemic. Take advantage of the opportunity. Join in!” Steinmeier further stated.
“The faster the number of people taking their vaccination offers, the faster the virus is defeated,” the statement further reads.
On the same day, Health Minister Jens Spahn announced in a press conference that COVID-19 vaccinations in doctor’s offices will begin after Easter.
“This won’t be a big step yet, but it will be an important one,” Spahn said.
According to Spahn, vaccination centers across Germany will receive 2.25 million doses each week and that procedures are currently being put in place to increase the number of shots in the coming weeks.
Germany has been criticized for its slow mass vaccination campaign, which was due to supply shortages and logistical issues.
The suspension of the AstraZeneca vaccine for people aged below 60 announced last March 31 also further slowed down the vaccination drive. It was suspended due to concerns of blood clotting, which was reported among the younger recipients.
According to government data, only 5% of the general population — 4,152,394 people — have been fully vaccinated.
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