For a long time, Johnson & Johnson vaccinees were considered fully immunized with just one vaccination of Johnson & Johnson's Janssen vector vaccine. This changed in January, when the vaccinated status was revoked and J&J vaccinees henceforth required a third vaccination for booster status.
Now, according to concurring media reports, a plaintiff has been awarded full vaccination status based on a ruling by the Berlin Administrative Court. This was reported by Tagesspiegel, N-TV, RND and rbb24.de, among others.
Accordingly, in an emergency decision, the Berlin court awarded the Johnsons & Johnson vaccinated their full vaccination status on the grounds that the Paul Ehrlich Institute's exclusion of persons vaccinated only once from full vaccination status was unlawful.
The criteria for Johnson & Johnson vaccinations had been established by the Institute last January and adjusted in the Protective Measures Exemption Ordinance, which also had far-reaching effects on the vaccination status of Johnson & Johnson vaccinated persons in Lower Saxony.
According to the ordinance authorization in the Infection Protection Act, only the federal government itself may decide on the status of immunization, not a higher federal authority. The transfer of this decision to the Paul Ehrlich Institute exceeded the limits of the legal authorization, the Berlin court's decision continues. "Therefore, there was no need to decide here whether the requirement of an additional single vaccination to achieve full vaccination protection after only one vaccination with the vaccine Covid-19 Vaccine Janssen was factually incorrect or insufficiently justified," the judges said.
The federal and state governments have already agreed that decisions on vaccination status should no longer be delegated to the Paul Ehrlich Institute.
In the wording of the court, the ruling of the 14th Chamber on the summary application was as follows: "After the summary examination, which alone is possible and required in summary proceedings, it must be assumed with the necessary high degree of probability that the regulation on which the exclusion of persons vaccinated only once with the Covid-19 vaccine Janssen from the complete vaccination protection status by the Paul Ehrlich Institute in consultation with the Robert Koch Institute is based (...) will prove to be illegal. Because about the immunization status (also as a result of protective vaccinations) had to decide according to the ordinance authorization in the Infection Protection Act the federal government itself."
The Berlin court's ruling on the basic immunization of Johnson & Johnson vaccinated people formally applies only to the plaintiff. Nevertheless, lawyers have already indicated that the decision could have fundamental significance and far-reaching consequences for the approximately 5.4 million people in Germany who have been vaccinated with Johnson & Johnson's Janssen vector vaccine.
The ruling of the Berlin Administrative Court thus also confirms the EMA's assessment. According to the court, vaccination with Johnson & Johnson is sufficient for full vaccination status, while the situation is different for vaccines from AstraZeneca, Biontech and Moderna.
The ruling means the applicant is considered fully vaccinated for the time being, based on prior law. However, the booster status is not given. In addition, the judges stated on Friday that an appeal against the decision of the Higher Administrative Court of Berlin-Brandenburg could be filed.
The applicant in the Berlin case had had a one-time injection of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine in October 2021. She had not had further Corona vaccinations administered, according to the Berlin court. The Johnson and Johnson vaccinee therefore filed suit because she was no longer considered fully vaccinated under the prevailing federal regulation, which resulted in her being excluded from the Corona exemptions.
Politically, the amendment on the vaccination status of the Johnson & Johnson vaccinated has been under criticism from the beginning. It now remains to be seen whether the ruling will be appealed. Furthermore, a wave of lawsuits could possibly spread across Germany as a result of the ruling at the Higher Administrative Court of Berlin-Brandenburg.
So far, however, nothing is known about further proceedings on the status of vaccinated persons with Johnson & Johnson. However, last week there had already been a ruling on the vaccination status of Johnson & Johnson vaccinated people in Schleswig-Holstein. The decision contradicted the ruling of the Berlin court. In Germany's northernmost state, the Schleswig-Holstein Administrative Court ruled that applicants who had been administered the Johnson & Johnson vaccine on a one-time basis were not entitled to the fully immunized vaccination status.
Photo by Mika Baumeister