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EXPLAINED: What to do if your second Covid jab in Germany clashes with your holiday

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It’s been a long wait for the Covid vaccine rollout in Germany to truly get underway, yet with around 53.6 percent of the population now partially vaccinated, many people feel as if freedom is just around the corner.

But with summer and the school holidays now upon us, there’s another risk: being given an appointment for the second shot at the exact same time you’re flying abroad for a post-lockdown holiday. 

That’s exactly what happened to Birgit H., a resident of Bavaria who shared her story with regional radio station BR24.

Having booked a holiday in Greece a few days after her last dose of vaccine was due, her GP surgery suddenly informed her they had run out of doses, and had to push the appointment back a week. In other words – to the exact same time she was supposed to be on the beach.

READ ALSO: Is Germany set to tighten testing and quarantine travel rules?

If you’re in Birgit’s position, it may seem like bad luck, but you do have options. Here’s what you need to know about your consumer rights if your second dose coincides with your holiday. 

My doctor offered me a vaccine appointment and then suddenly postponed it – can I take legal action?

According to legal experts, vaccine appointments – much like Ikea delivery windows – are considered more of a rough estimation of when you will be seen, rather than a cast-iron guarantee. 

Vaccination centres and doctors’ surgeries can’t generally be held liable if the appointment you’ve been given isn’t honoured, travel law expert Professor Ronald Schmid of Dresden Technical University told BR24. 

What about travel insurance? Will that help?

Since the Covid-19 pandemic came to Europe, travel insurance has provided tourists with a sense that they can hedge their bets against ongoing uncertainty – such as sudden outbreaks of the pandemic, travel bans or falling ill.

In reality, however, travel insurance policies don’t tend to account for every eventuality, and it’s quite unlikely that they’d reimburse a missed holiday due to a vaccination appointment. 

That’s according to Julia Zeller, a lawyer from the Bavarian Consumer Advice Centre, who spoke to BR24 about the issue. In most cases, your travel insurance will cover you if you get ill ahead of your trip abroad, and in Zeller’s view, it’s unlikely that this would stretch to include vaccinations.

Nevertheless, she says, it’s always worth checking the small-print of your policy. You never know whether you might be eligible for a refund, after all. 

Do holidays count as a valid excuse to postpone a vaccine appointment?  

According to the Bavarian Health Ministry, the answer is ‘no’ – but that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth a try. Though planned holidays aren’t considered an “urgent personal reason” for a postponement, your vaccination centre or GP may be willing to show some flexibility. 

For AstraZeneca, for example, the Federal Health Ministry has previously said that those willing to get inoculated with the the vector vaccine are free to organise the gap between doses with their doctor – as long as the second appointment falls within the permitted window of four to twelve weeks.

READ ALSO: Should Germany shorten Covid vaccine intervals to combat Delta?

For Modern and Pfizer/BioNTech, official advice suggests that the second dose should be taken no more than 60 days (or roughly eight and a half weeks) after the first, so be aware of this if you attempt to postpone the second dose. 

There’s also the chance that last-minute doses may show up after all due to missed appointments – which is exactly what happened to Birgit H., BR24 reports. 

Can I postpone my holiday instead?

If you’re unable to find a suitable alternative appointment for your second vaccine dose, changing or cancelling your trip may well be the best option. Many travel agents have introduced a range of ‘good faith’ options for people to amend their trip due to Covid-related issues, though Zeller doesn’t believe that vaccination appointments are generally covered.

According to the consumer rights expert, you may be given two options: either take the holiday regardless, or cancel or amend it and pay the associated fees. 

However, with many travel agents and airlines offering flexible booking options in the Covid pandemic, a lot may depend on the type of booking you have; how last-minute your request is, and how willing the company is to compromise. In any case, if you approach your travel agent or airline and explain your situation, they may be open to finding another solution. 

Does it matter that I’m not fully vaccinated when I leave to go abroad?

For many countries (although not all), people who can present a negative test or certificate of recovery from Covid-19 are put on an even-footing with the fully vaccinated when entering Germany, so if your final vaccine appointment falls after your holidays, you should still in some cases be able to travel with a negative test or proof of recovery instead. 

READ ALSO: Germany relaxes travel rules for vaccinated non-EU residents – What you need to know

That said, you may feel more comfortable travelling abroad when you have greater immunity, especially if you are visiting bustling tourist hotspots. 

Based on present evidence, medical experts believe that a single dose of vaccine is much less effective against the Delta variant of Covid-19 than a completed course of vaccinations.

This could mean that a visit abroad poses greater risks to people who aren’t yet fully immunised – though the choice, of course, is up to you. 

Vocabulary

holiday – (der) Urlaub

postpone appointment – (der) Termin verschieben 

consumer rights – (die) Verbraucherrechte

cancel – stornieren 

amend – ändern

We’re aiming to help our readers improve their German by translating vocabulary from some of our news stories. Did you find this article useful? Let us know.



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Census 2022 – what difference does it make?

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Next Sunday, April 3rd, is Census night. Millions of people in homes countrywide will fill in page after page of questions, some of which are deeply personal and many of which might be unfamiliar.

But what it is it all about?

At a basic level, Census 2022 will be used to inform planning of public policy and services in the years ahead, according to the Central Statistics Office.

The questions will cover a range of environmental, employment and lifestyle issues, including the use of renewable energy sources in homes.

The questions will help inform policy development in the areas of energy and climate action, and the prevalence of internet access, to understand the availability of and need for internet connections and range of devices used to access the internet.

Questions also focus on changes in work patterns and will include the trend of working from home and childcare issues, while questions are also asked about the times individuals usually leave work, education or childcare, to help identify and plan for transport pattern needs locally and nationally.

Other topics covered include volunteering and the type of organisations volunteers choose to support, tobacco usage and the prevalence of smoke alarms in the home.

And of course there is a time capsule – the chance to write something which will be sealed for the next 100 years.

In this episode of In The News, the head of census administration Eileen Murphy and statistician Kevin Cunningham about what it all means for us.

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Oscars 2022: Will Smith makes Oscar history after slapping Chris Rock over joke about wife Jada Pinkett Smith | Culture

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Will Smith took the Oscar for Best Actor at last night’s 94th Academy Awards, but he also became the protagonist of the ceremony for other reasons. The night was following the script, until Smith slapped comedian Chris Rock on the stage after the latter made a joke about the shaved head of the former’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith. Rock had quipped that he was “looking forward to GI Jane 2,” in reference to her look. Pinkett Smith has revealed publicly that she has alopecia. It looked as if the moment had been planned, until Smith went back to his seat and shouted: “Get my wife’s name out of your fucking mouth.”

The moment, which immediately became Oscar history but for all the wrong reasons, left the attendees with frozen smiles, and asking themselves whether it was possible that a veteran such as Smith could have lost his cool in front of tens of millions of people. After taking the prize for Best Actor, the superstar actor made a tearful apology, saying that he hoped the Academy “will invite me back.” Later on, actor Anthony Hopkins called for “peace and love,” but it was already too late. The incident overshadowed the success of CODA, which took the Oscar for Best Picture. Just like the time when Warren Beatty mistakenly named La La Land as the big winner of the night, no one will speak about anything else from last night’s awards.

At first sight, Smith’s actions looked as if they were scripted. When he first heard Rock’s joke, he laughed. But his wife was seen on camera rolling her eyes, and it was then that the actor got up onto the stage and hit Rock. When he returned to his seat he raised his voice twice to shout “Get my wife’s name out of your fucking mouth,” sending a wave of unease and shock through the attending audience. The fact that he used the f-word, which is prohibited on US television, set alarm bells ringing that this was real and not a planned moment. In fact, the curse word was censored by the broadcaster, ABC, in the United States.

During a break, Smith’s PR manager approached him to speak. In the press room, which the actor skipped after collecting his prize, instructions were given to the journalists not to ask questions about the incident, Luis Pablo Beauregard reports. The next presenter, Sean “Diddy” Combs, tried to calm the situation. “Will and Chris, we’re going to solve this – but right now we’re moving on with love,” the rapper said.

When Smith took to the stage to collect his Best Actor award for his role as Richard Williams – the father of tennis stars Venus and Serena – in King Richard, he referred to the character as “a fierce defender of his family.” He continued: “I’m being called on in my life to love people and to protect people and to be a river to my people. I know to do what we do you’ve got to be able to take abuse, and have people talk crazy about you and have people disrespecting you and you’ve got to smile and pretend it’s OK.”

He explained that fellow actor Denzel Washington, who also spoke to Smith during a break, had told him: “At your highest moment, be careful, that’s when the devil comes for you.”

“I want to be a vessel for love,” Smith continued. “I want to be an ambassador of that kind of love and care and concern. I want to apologize to the Academy and all my fellow nominees. […] I look like the crazy father just like they said about Richard Williams, but love will make you do crazy things,” he said. He then joked about his mother, who had not wanted to come to the ceremony because she had a date with her crochet group.

The Los Angeles Police Department released a statement last night saying that Chris Rock would not be filing any charges for assault against Smith. “LAPD investigative entities are aware of an incident between two individuals during the Academy Awards program,” the statement read. “The incident involved one individual slapping another. The individual involved has declined to file a police report. If the involved party desires a police report at a later date, LAPD will be available to complete an investigative report.”

On December 28, Pinkett Smith spoke on social media about her problems with alopecia. She stated that she would be keeping her head shaved and would be dealing with the condition with humor. “Me and this alopecia are going to be friends… Period!” she wrote on Instagram.



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House-price inflation set to stay double digit for much of 2022

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House-price inflation is expected to remain at double-digit levels for much of 2022 as the mismatch between what is for sale and what buyers want continues.

Two new reports on the housing market paint a picture of a sector under strain due to a lack of supply and increased demand driven by Covid-related factors such as remote working.

The two quarterly reports, one each from rival property websites myhome.ie and daft.ie, suggest asking prices accelerated again in the first quarter of 2022 as the stock of homes available for sale slumped to a new record low.

Myhome, which is owned by The Irish Times, said annual asking-price inflation was now running at 12.3 per cent.

Price

This put the median or typical asking price for a home nationally at €295,000, and at €385,000 in Dublin.

MyHome said the number of available properties for sale on its website fell to a record low of 11,200 in March, down from a pre-pandemic level of 19,000. The squeeze on supply, it said, was most acute outside Dublin, with the number of properties listed for sale down almost 50 per cent compared with pre-pandemic levels.

It said impaired supply and robust demand meant double-digit inflation is likely until at least mid-2022.

“Housing market conditions have continued to tighten,” said author of the myhome report, Davy chief economist Conall Mac Coille.

“The broad picture of the market in early 2022 remains similar to last year: impaired supply coupled with robust demand due to Ireland’s strong labour market,” he said.

Soure: MyHome.ie

“One chink of light is that new instructions to sell of 7,500 in the first 11 weeks of 2022 are well up from 4,800 in 2021, albeit still below the 9,250 in 2019. The flow of new properties therefore remains impaired,” said Mr Mac Coille.

“Whatever new supply is emerging is being met by more than ample demand. Hence, transaction volumes in January and February were up 13 per cent on the year but pushed the market into ever tighter territory,” he said.

He said Davy was now predicting property-price inflation to average 7 per cent this year, up from a previous forecast of 4.5 per cent, buoyed strong employment growth.

Homes

Daft, meanwhile, said house asking prices indicated the average listed price nationwide in the first quarter of 2022 was €299,093, up 8.4 per cent on the same period in 2021 and and just 19 per cent below the Celtic Tiger peak, while noting increases remain smaller in urban areas, compared to rural.

Just 10,000 homes were listed for sale on its website as of March 1st, an all-time low. In Dublin, Cork and Galway cities, prices in the first quarter of 2022 were roughly 4 per cent higher on average than a year previously, while in Limerick and Waterford cities the increases were 7.6 per cent and 9.3 per cent respectively.

The report’s author, Trinity College Dublin economist Ronan Lyons, said: “Inflation in housing prices remains stubbornly high – with Covid-19 disturbing an equilibrium of sorts that had emerged, with prices largely stable in 2019 but increasing since.

“As has been the case consistently over the last decade, increasing prices – initially in Dublin and then elsewhere – reflect a combination of strong demand and very weak supply.”


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