Berlin principals' associations and employees have reacted with great concern, as well as bewilderment and anger, to the elimination of their timely vaccination option. "We are being sent into the fire," was one reaction from affected teachers. Quite a few would have had their first vaccination appointments in the coming days, before the end of the Easter vacations. That's over now.
The loss of vaccination priority 2 for the approximately 40,000 teachers, educators, cafeteria workers and janitors was announced on Wednesday by the Senate Department of Health: The only limited use of Astrazeneca left no other choice, it said. Since then, those affected wondered whether this could be the last word, especially since they had already received all their vaccination codes.
Then, on Thursday evening, there was no more room for hope of a misunderstanding: in a three-page letter, the three department heads of the Senate Department for Education addressed the approximately 250 schools, explaining the state of affairs.
According to the letter, the problems with the Astrazeneca vaccine and the shortage of other vaccines left no choice but for employees to forego rescheduling or rebooking appointments "until further notice." To ensure that no one gets the idea of trying it anyway, the letter points out that when accessing the vaccination centers, "the presence of a vaccination authorization will be checked again separately".
The Senate Department for Health had expressed this admonition even more drastically on Wednesday: "Checks will be made during registration at the vaccination center to prevent attempts at circumvention," it said - a formulation that some of those affected felt was a threat.
The education administration, as the employer of the employees, tried to strike a different tone: "For many of those affected, this is associated with great disappointment. We can understand this disappointment and also the uncertainty that may have arisen," write the three department heads, who however "ask for understanding in view of the changed situation".
It goes on to say that "inadvertently arranged vaccination appointments with other vaccines cannot be kept and must be cancelled," even if the vaccination code sent remains valid - until it is also the turn of the "vaccination priority 3 groups of people."
A hotline for employees over 60
Further explanations show that anyone who has received a first vaccination is entitled to a second vaccination. This applies to all previously vaccinated individuals regardless of vaccination priority, he said. In addition, those over the age of 60 can now call the vaccination hotline 030 / 9028- 2200 to make an appointment for vaccination. This also applies to employees at secondary general and vocational schools over the age of 60, he said.
In addition, according to the letter from the Education Department, there is an option for individuals under the age of 60 "who reach a mutually agreeable decision with the vaccinating physician after careful education, medical judgment and individual risk analysis to be vaccinated with Astrazeneca."
"It's boiling at the schools," Astrid-Sabine Busse of the Berlin school administrators' interest group told the Daily Mirror. The colleagues are "really worried." Another principal said, "I will not open the school, but leave it at online teaching."
The employees have been unsettled for days, because already on Friday there had been a first turnaround: There it was suddenly said that priority 2 was tied exclusively to the use of Astrazeneca, after two days earlier there had been explicit talk of free choice of vaccine.
After the vacations there will be alternate teaching
As reported, after the vacations, alternate teaching is to continue, with half of the learning groups in the schools while the other half is to learn at home under guidance. In order to be able to implement this option, masses of self-tests have been distributed to the students. However, some schools report that a number of students did not pick up the tests before the vacations.
A lack of willingness to test is expected, because this corresponds to the experiences in London, for example. There are therefore initial calls for compulsory testing of students at school. Whether the Senate will stick to its plan to start alternate teaching despite the worsened infection situation will become clear in the week after Easter.
Photo by Steven Cornfield