German minister stresses no compulsory vaccination ahead of grilling

Berlin, Jan. 13, (dpa/GNA) - German Health Minister Jens Spahn found himself again rejecting the idea of compulsory vaccinations on Wednesday, ahead of his planned speech to parliament in which he was expected to outline the state of play in Germany's fight against the coronavirus.

"I gave my word in the Bundestag [national parliament]: There will be no compulsory vaccinations in this pandemic," Spahn told the Deutschlandfunk radio broadcaster, adding that the government was instead focusing on information campaigns to foster trust.

On Tuesday, one of Germany's most high-profile politicians suggested making vaccinations against Covid-19 mandatory in the care sector.

Markus Soeder, premier of the southern state of Bavaria, said the issue should be assessed by the German Ethics Council, an independent body, in comments to the ZDF broadcaster.

Spahn argued that care workers have one of the hardest jobs in the current health crisis and said they deserve to be treated with respect.

"So I think we should also talk to them about vaccination," Spahn, a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU), said.

After being broadly praised for his handling of the pandemic last year, Spahn has spent the first couple of weeks of 2021 defending the country's vaccination drive.

Opposition parties and his own Social Democrat (SPD) coalition partners have slammed the roll-out as too sluggish and said not enough vaccine doses were ordered.

The health minister has stressed that vaccine manufacturers are still catching up with demand and voiced his support for the European Commission, which coordinated the vaccine roll-out across the 27 EU member states.