Rush for vaccines after tighter Covid rules
Almost twice as many people got jabbed against Covid-19 in the month after Prime Minister Xavier Bettel tightened the rules for the unvaccinated, compared with the four weeks beforehand, Health Minister Paulette Lenert said on Monday.
Between mid-September and mid-November Luxembourg administered nearly 29,000 first vaccine doses, with around 64% of them carried out after mid-October, when Bettel announced the new rules, which make it harder for the unvaccinated to enter bars, restaurants and the work place.
Under the new law, revealed on 18 October, people wanting to dine out or go to the cinema have to show their so-called CovidCheck pass to prove they are vaccinated, have recently tested negative for the disease or recently recovered from it. From 1 November employers have been allowed to submit staff to the CovidCheck system and have the power to withhold salaries from employees refusing to comply with the checks, bar them access to the office or even dismiss them.
Almost twice as many first doses were administered after the new CovidCheck rules were put in place. While just over 10,000 people had their first dose of the Covid jab between 14 September and 14 October, more than 18,000 people went to get vaccinated between 15 October and 15 November, Lenert said in response to a parliamentary question.
“With the BioNtech Pfizer vaccine which the European Medicines Agency could authorise to be administered to children between five and 12 years old, the vaccination rate could significantly increase again because until now the population between five and 12 years was excluded from the possibility of being vaccinated,” Lenert wrote.
Luxembourg has administered more than 870,000 doses, including first and second shots, and around 423,000 residents have been fully vaccinated. The country started rolling out booster shots to people with severely weakened immune systems and the elderly, but last week Bettel said all adults will be able to get a booster shot six months after their second dose. The first 40,000 invitations for the jab were scheduled to be sent out on Monday.
As infections continue to soar across Europe, new cases in Luxembourg last week jumped to levels last seen in March and April. New infections during the week between 8 and 14 November were up by 20% compared to the previous week and eight people died of the disease during that period, the health ministry said.
Nobody died over the weekend, figures from the health ministry showed on Monday. There are now 46 people in hospital, down from 51 last week. But the number of people in intensive care has gone up from nine to 10. A total of 677 people tested positive between Friday and Sunday.
The current Covid rules are due to expire on 18 December but the government cannot exclude putting in place new restrictions then, or even before that date, Bettel said at a press conference on Friday.