German service members face vaccine mandate as coronavirus cases rise
BERLIN — The German military is poised to make coronavirus vaccines mandatory for troops as COVID-19 infections continue to rise across the country.
The Defense Ministry on Tuesday confirmed a report in the German military blog Augen Geradeaus that officials and service members' representatives agreed late Monday to add the coronavirus shot to the list of vaccines soldiers must get. The measure still needs to be formally added to military regulations, the ministry said in a statement.
There were 1,215 active COVID-19 cases as of Monday reported within the military and the ministry's civilian staff.
The nationwide tally of newly confirmed cases rose by 45,326 in the past 24 hours, the country's disease control agency said Tuesday. A further 309 deaths from COVID-19 were reported, taking the total toll since the start of the outbreak to 99,433.
On Monday, the U.S. State Department urged Americans not to travel to Germany because of rising case numbers, and to ensure they are fully vaccinated if they do.
Some German states have tightened rules for unvaccinated people in recent days and urged people who haven't done so yet to get the shot.
But a sizeable minority has resisted calls to do so, prompting a stark warning from the country's health minister about the consequences of not getting vaccinated.
"By the end of this winter pretty much everyone in Germany (...) will have been vaccinated, recovered or died,” health minister Jens Spahn said Monday.
About 68% of Germany's population of 83 million has been fully vaccinated, far below the minimum threshold of 75% that the government is aiming for.