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Plans for vaccine passports to expire six months after people receive their second jabs are threatening to throw Germany into chaos.
Olaf Scholz, the incoming German chancellor, wants to treat everyone who does not have a booster as unvaccinated.
The new policy threatens to plunge millions of people back into effective lockdown through no fault of their own.
Many German regions bar the unvaccinated from restaurants, pubs, gyms, cinemas and non-essential shops.
German policy until now has been to advise people not to get a booster until six months after their second shot. But Mr Scholz told regional leaders on Tuesday that he wanted proof of vaccination to be invalid from that date.
“Because the protection of the vaccination decreases significantly over time, vaccination status will lose its recognition as complete protection after six months,” a written proposal from the incoming government says.
Mr Scholz has yet to indicate when his new policy will come into force, and many are hoping there will be some form of transition period.
If it were to come into force immediately, it would send millions of Germans scrambling to get booster shots even as regions across the country complain they are already facing shortages.
A high profile “Vaccination Express” train that offered jabs on wheels in Frankfurt had to be stopped after just one day because it ran out of vaccines.
“A delivery disaster, pure chaos,” said Peter Feldmann, the mayor of Frankfurt, who laid responsibility at the feet of Jens Spahn, the outgoing health minister, who has been accused of failing to order enough vaccines.
The health ministry insisted on Wednesday that Germany has sufficient stocks of vaccines and blamed regional authorities for failing to request enough.
A spokesman said 28m jabs will be delivered by the end of next week. Mr Scholz has announced an ambitious new plan of giving 30m jabs by Christmas — which would mean a dramatic acceleration in the German vaccination drive.
He wants to make vaccination compulsory from Febraury or March next year, but has pledged his government will allow MPs a free vote on the question.