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COVID rules in Berlin: Should I get a booster?

Covid cases in Berlin are rising as winter approaches. So, should you be getting a booster shot? And can you still get a free test? We outline the latest rules.

Covid in Berlin: should you be getting your booster shot this autumn? Photo: IMAGO / Panthermedia

What is my official vaccination status?

  • If you’ve had one booster shot, you are now considered fully vaccinated, not boosted.
  • If you haven’t had a booster shot, you’re no longer considered fully vaccinated.

Here’s a quote from Berlin’s official website. “Fully vaccinated persons who have received a booster shot are considered to be boostered until September 30, 2022. From October 1, they are considered fully vaccinated.” (Some exceptions apply, see here for more information.) You need a digital or paper vaccination certificate to prove your status.

If you were vaccinated and/or boosted outside the EU, your vaccination certificate is fine as long as the EU recognises the vaccine (BioNTech and Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca, Janssen Pharmaceutica NV, Novavax and Valneva). If you are legally residing in the EU, you can apply for an EU digital COVID certificate. Find more information here under “Who can get the EU Digital COVID certificate?”.

Why should I get boosted?

Let’s be clear: vaccinations strengthen your immune system, but they do not give you complete immunity. You may still contract Covid, but if you’re vaccinated, your chances of serious illness and death are significantly lower. The protection that shots provide fades over time, and that’s where boosters come in. Booster shots help your body produce more antibodies, which means a more effective immune response.

Who needs a first booster?

Adults 18+

Everyone aged 18 and over should get a booster jab at least 3 months after their last vaccination.

Children ages 12-17

Children and adolescents should receive their booster shots 3-6 months after their initial vaccination. If they have pre-existing conditions, they should receive the booster closer to the 3-month mark. If they don’t have pre-existing conditions, they can receive the booster later in the 3-6 month window.

Children ages 5-11

If the child has pre-existing conditions, they should receive the booster shot (in addition to the initial 2 vaccinations). All children should get vaccinated against coronavirus, but healthy children should not be boosted for now. We encourage readers to consult their paediatrician if they have questions or concerns. See this website under “Coronavirus vaccination for children from the age of 5” for more information.

Who needs a second booster?

Health workers

Health workers should get a second booster 6 months after their first booster, or 6 months after a Covid infection. This is especially important if they are in direct contact with patients.

High-risk population

This group includes people over age 5 who are subject to an increased risk of severe illness due to an underlying disease, those over age 60, people with immunodeficiencies and those in nursing homes or care facilities. These groups should receive a second booster shot 3 months after their first booster or 6 months after a Covid infection.

If you’re not in these 2 groups, the official advice is that you don’t need a booster for now. These recommendations may change to include more groups at a later date. Further information can be found on the website of the Robert Koch Institute.

Which vaccines are being offered?

There are currently 6 approved vaccines on offer, and they work in different ways. The most effective contenders are the mRNA vaccines from BioNTech/Pfizer and Moderna. AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson offer vector vaccines, Novavax has a protein vaccine and Valnelva has recently developed an deactivated virus vaccine. More vaccine types are currently undergoing trials and reviews.

Different vaccines are recommended for different groups, but all 6 are effective. In general, those under 30 and pregnant women should get the BioNTech vaccine, and those over 60 should get the AstraZeneca or Johnson & Johnson vaccines for their initial vaccination. Booster shots should be mRNA vaccines. (Find more information here under “Who is to be vaccinated with which vaccine?”.)

Where can I get vaccinated?

Vaccinations, including boosters, are given free of charge. You can make an appointment at a vaccination centre or speak to your doctor about vaccination. See here for more information (in German).

Where can I get tested (and what does it cost?)

The city of Berlin no longer operates testing centres, but here is a frequently updated map of commercial testing sites.

From July 2022, no free tests are offered to asymptomatic individuals. Tests now cost €3, but if you meet any of the following requirements, it’s still free:

  • you’re a child under 5
  • you can’t get vaccinated for medical reasons
  • you are in quarantine and want out
  • you can prove you’re living with an infected person
  • you work with patients in nursing homes / medical centres
  • you have a disability or you care for someone with a disability

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