The Corona pandemic was never just about keeping the virus down. Of course, in the end, all the questions revolved around how to succeed in avoiding contagion. And with it, often enough, disease, suffering and death. But there was always a second level, detached from any pragmatics. It was almost always a question of responsibility. Who needs to be protected most urgently from the dangers of the virus? Who can make this protection possible? And above all: at what price can this be demanded?
For a long time, there was a reasonable hope that the vaccination campaign would make the crisis easier. That in the matter of Corona, only sober crisis management would be carried out and the social balance would not have to be renegotiated over and over again. In a few weeks, the summer will be coming to an end, but there is not much sign of lightness these days. The hope that this crisis would become easier with time has not been fulfilled. It remains a burden.
The country is heading into the fall under different circumstances than last year. Several vaccines are now available that provide the greatest possible protection against infection and disease. And every adult who wants to be protected against the consequences of the virus in this way should already have had the chance to do so. The German government has just been able to proudly announce that more than one in two people in the country has now been fully vaccinated against Corona. But because the willingness to be vaccinated has so far fallen far short of expectations - experts at the Robert Koch Institute consider a rate of at least 85 percent to be necessary - the further handling of the pandemic remains delicate.
There is a reason why vaccination, while an individual medical decision, is ultimately not a private matter. Because the decision has social consequences - whether you like it or not. The more people who get immunized against Corona, the greater the protection for those who can't get vaccinated. This not only applies to patients with certain pre-existing conditions, for whom vaccination would be too risky. It especially affects children under the age of twelve, for whom no vaccine has been approved.
Irrespective of the controversial question of whether vaccinations can be generally recommended for children, the fact remains that they do not even have the chance to be immunized at the moment. According to official figures, there are just under eight million children living in Germany who are ten years old or younger. So the group of those affected by adults' individual vaccination decisions is not exactly small. It is huge.
And it gets even trickier. At present, there is no clarity among scientists as to how long the vaccination protection lasts. Of all people, this is a problem for those who have suffered the most from the consequences of an infection. Seniors and those in need of care got the shot first during times of shortage, for good reasons. No one knows if the protection of these populations won't wane soon.
Nevertheless, there is still no roadmap for how booster vaccinations are to be organized - apart from corresponding declarations of intent by politicians. Finally, and this applies to all age groups, no vaccination protects against infection under all conditions. The Robert Koch Institute has already registered more than 6000 so-called vaccination breakthroughs, and their number will continue to rise. Even though the risk of serious illness in these cases is likely to be significantly reduced, it is not zero. Even vaccinated people can die from the consequences of infection in the worst case. The more people who opt for the shot, the better it is for everyone.
It is therefore time to remind those who are not part of the solution of their social responsibility. Moreover, decisive action is needed precisely where the virus is spreading again. It is mainly travelers and young adults who are reigniting the pandemic. Around one in ten cases can be traced back to infection abroad. It is therefore imperative that the government quickly tightens measures at the borders. More tests, more controls and, if necessary, more quarantines are annoying but necessary. Incidentally, across all new infections, the focus is on people between the ages of 15 and 34.It is up to all of us how this Corona autumn turns out. Increasing vaccination preparedness, more testing, and more prudence could make a difference - even if things are already moving in ungodly ways. That many people are tired of the pandemic, exhausted by all the bans and mandates, is understandable. The longing for lightness is great, especially in summer. But nothing changes. The virus still doesn't allow a break.
Photo by Mauro Mora