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Urgent action required: Changes to requirements for vaccination and recovered certificates
The entry into force on 15 January 2022 of the Regulation on Corona Protective Measures – Exemption Regulation (Verordnung zur der Corona-Schutzmaßnahmen -Ausnahmeverordnung) changes the requirements for proof of vaccination and recovery. It compels and authorises the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) to publish on its homepage the applicable requirements for proof of recovery from a Coronavirus infection. The RKI subsequently announced, with immediate effect, the reduction of the period of validity for any proof of recovery from six months to just 90 days. This change is based on new findings that recovered persons no longer have protection against reinfection with the Omicron variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus after this period.
Similarly, the Paul Ehrlich Institute was tasked with amending the requirements of the vaccination certificate, where applicable, and publishing any new requirements on its homepage. One change has already been made. Persons who were vaccinated with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine now require a second vaccination for “fully vaccinated” status. Evidence has shown that a single vaccination with this vaccine provides insufficient protection against infection with the SARS-CoV-2 Coronavirus.
In both cases, an additional vaccination with one of the vaccines approved in the EU will be sufficient to obtain “fully vaccinated” status. Until now, unvaccinated persons who had recovered from a Coronavirus infection obtained this status with their first vaccination. Those who had been vaccinated once with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine had “fully vaccinated” status 14 days after vaccination.
Employers should use these changes as an opportunity to fulfil their obligations under § 5 of the SAR-CoV-2 Employee Protection Regulation (SARS-CoV-2-Arbeitsschutzverordnung) by again informing employees of the risks of a COVID-19 infection and the existing vaccination options. Employers should also release employees from their duties in order to go and get vaccinated. Further, concerning the controls on employees before entering their place of work, as required under § 28b of the Infection Protection Act (Infektionsschutzgesetz), employers must recheck employee information and update their documentation on employee vaccination and recovery status wherever there is a change to the requirements or validity of such certificates.
(Source: Communication of the Federal Ministry for Labour and Social Affairs of 26 January 2022)
Rechtsanwalt, Licensed Specialist for Labour Law