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Peter Heinz. Screenshot from YouTube/Stock photo from Pixabay
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German state health insurance chief calls for massive restrictions on freedom for unvaccinated

The Corona case numbers are rising slightly again in Germany with the delta variant spreading. At the same time, the willingness to vaccinate has decreased. The chairman of the Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians in Rhineland-Palatinate, Peter Heinz, has thus called for massive restrictions on freedom for the unvaccinated to force people to get the jab.

Published: July 12, 2021, 11:23 am

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    No swimming pool, no stadium, compulsory masks, no holidays: For people who have not been vaccinated, there must be clear restrictions according to the Rhineland-Palatinate health insurance chief.

    “The non-vaccinated will not have the freedom to take off their masks. You will not be allowed to go shopping, to enter a stadium, the swimming pool or the supermarket without a mask. And you can no longer allow unvaccinated people and those with just a simple vaccination to go on vacation,” he told the Rhein-Zeitung.

    In his opinion, even with a negative test, unvaccinated people should not go on vacation: “Free testing does not protect you. For example, if you go to an island with a negative PCR test, you can very well get infected there, come home and carry the virus.”

    “Anyone who allows the unvaccinated any freedom, is wasting the chance to reach everyone with the vaccination,” said Heinz. He added that it has to be made clear to people: “Without vaccination there is no freedom. Without this pressure we will not convince people.”

    According to Heinz, unvaccinated people are a “danger to society” and should therefore not be given the same freedoms as vaccinated people.

    Curiously, Heinz maintains that his extreme proposal does not imply compulsory vaccination.  He explained that compulsory vaccination would be viewed as “paternalism”. He also considers vaccination rewards as an “absurd” measure.

    Heinz clearly believes the stick solution to be the better alternative to the carrot and added that giving freedom only to vaccinated people was not a hidden obligation to vaccinate, “but an inevitable conclusion in a pandemic situation”. More than forty percent of Germans are already fully vaccinated.

    Because the pace of the vaccination campaign has slowed, vaccination rewards are seen as a way to help get the inoculation campaign rolling again.

    Sufficient vaccine doses are now available in the country. In view of the allegedly particularly contagious delta variant of the Coronavirus, the Robert Koch Institute has set a vaccination rate of 85 percent as a target. Vaccination rewards could help to get the campaign going again, authorities believe, stating that even high vaccination premiums of five hundred euros or more could be economically profitable in the long term. The number of daily vaccinations has dropped because of “vaccination fatigue”.

    “Not all people who are ready to vaccinate want to go to great lengths. It is therefore important that we compensate for this effort and make vaccination access much easier,” said Nora Szech, Professor of Political Economy at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology.

    Other countries are already one step further. There are quite unusual vaccination incentives in the US. In the state of Washington, for example, the Joints for Jabs programme offers those who get vaccinated by mid-July a free cannabis joint. In Ohio, vaccinated people are given a lottery ticket for the chance to win a million dollars or a college scholarship.

    But such vaccination incentives can also backfire. Some people may be more suspicious of being offered a reward for vaccination. Moreover, the resistance against vaccination is hardening anyway. “We can see that people are now making clearer decisions: yes, I want to vaccinate or no, I don’t want to vaccinate,” said Sebastian Neumann-Böhme, research associate at the Hamburg Center for Health Economics.

    The tourism group Alltours has already made vaccination a condition for travel. From the end of October, the company will only accept adult guests in its own Allsun hotels if they have a Corona vaccination or proof of health. “Since there is now enough vaccines available, all adults can be vaccinated by then,” said the travel company. Children and adolescents between the ages of 2 and 17, on the other hand, only need proof of a negative corona test, according to dpa.

    The Rhineland-Palatinate FDP parliamentary group leader, Philipp Fernis, said the demands of the health insurance chief were completely out of the question. “Trying to permanently deprive unvaccinated people of their liberties violates constitutional principles. The proposal to prohibit unvaccinated people from shopping in a supermarket or visiting a swimming pool is authoritarian nonsense.”

    The Mainz virologist Bodo Plachter has expressed skepticism about the demand that people who have been vaccinated should not be allowed to travel. Because then families with children would no longer be allowed to go on vacation, Plachter told the SWR.

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