April 29, 2020 / 12:01 PM / a month ago

Germany buys extra flu jabs to avoid double hit to healthcare

BERLIN (Reuters) - The coronavirus pandemic is a long way from over, German Health Minister Jens Spahn said on Wednesday, announcing measures, including ramped-up purchases of flu vaccines, to help ready the healthcare system for a long-term challenge.

“It would be a major challenge for the healthcare system to be confronted with a flu wave and a corona wave at the same time - they have similar symptoms and require similar ventilation capacities,” he said, unveiling plans to make 30% more flu jabs available for the coming autumn-winter flu season.

Spahn also said that all employees providing care for the elderly would get a bonus for “doing a great job at a difficult time”. He said the federal government and social insurance covering two-thirds of the costs for that while the federal states and employers would be expected to pay the rest.

The Finance Ministry has said that bonus payments to reward employees for their work during the coronavirus crisis would be tax-free up to an amount of 1,500 euros ($1,626.15) in 2020.

Reporting by Thomas Escritt; Editing by Michelle Martin

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