Germany should prioritise nursing home residents for COVID-19 shots - expert panel

FILE PHOTO: Vials labelled "COVID-19 Coronavirus-Vaccine" and a medical syringe are seen placed on the European Union map in this picture illustration taken December 2, 2020. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany should administer its first COVID-19 vaccines to residents and staff in senior citizen and nursing homes, as well as those aged over 80, according to draft recommendations by its expert panel seen by Reuters on Monday.

Other priority groups include healthcare workers who are exposed to the virus due to their jobs, such as those working in emergency medicine, as well as staff treating vulnerable groups like transplant and cancer patients, the experts said.

The first priority group includes more than 8.6 million people, according to the recommendations by the expert panel, known as STIKO, which were sent to various medical groups on Monday.

In a second priority group, the STIKO proposes administering vaccines to those aged 75-80 as well as residents and staff at dementia facilities, which it estimates at more than 6.7 million.

The third priority group should be those aged between 70 and 75, people with pre-existing conditions and those in contact with pregnant women, the STIKO said. It expects this to amount to around 5.5 million people.

Health Minister Jens Spahn has said Germany has ordered around 300 million potential doses from European and bilateral deals from various suppliers.

This includes almost 70 million doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, according to a German health ministry overview.

The European drugs regulator is due to complete its review of the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna candidate vaccines by Dec. 29 and Jan. 12 respectively.