Germany’s lower house of parliament on Thursday (April 7) voted against a law mandating everyone over 60 years of age to receive COVID-19 vaccination in a major defeat for Chancellor Olaf Scholz.
Germany’s COVID-19 vaccination campaign is faltering with around 76.6% of Germany’s population having received at least one dose—lower than in other western European countries such as France, Italy or Spain, where the figures are 81.4%, 84.4% and 86.9% respectively.
In an attempt to avoid another wave of COVID-19 later this year, the cross-party proposal required citizens aged 60 and over to be vaccinated from October 15. However, of the 683 parliamentarians who voted, 378 cast a ballot against the law and 296 in favor. It was a free vote, with lawmakers not told to follow party lines.
The defeat is a setback for Scholz who had even summoned his foreign minister, Annalena Baerbock, to leave a NATO meeting in Brussels to return for the vote.
Last week Scholz was forced to drop plans for mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations for over 18s as he could not muster a parliamentary majority.