BERLIN — Dr. Peter Weitkamp placed an ad in eBay’s classifieds last week, offering appointments for an AstraZeneca vaccine — “free/to give away” — to anyone over 60. Many of his own patients didn’t want it, since the German government had spent months questioning the vaccine.
But within a day, his practice in Kirchlengern, in the western state of North Rhine-Westphalia, was inundated with calls from people seeking the remaining 80 to 90 doses, including some offering to drive in from out of state. Another family doctor got a similar response after setting up a drive-through vaccination center in a grocery store parking lot to administer AstraZeneca shots her that her own patients had rejected.
To the doctors, the response was proof that plenty of Germans were willing, even eager, for doses of AstraZeneca. Days later, the German government apparently agreed and relaxed previous restrictions that limited the AstraZeneca vaccine to certain age groups over concerns about rare but dangerous blood clots.
For months, Germany’s vaccine program had unfurled at a frustratingly slow pace and, at times, it seemed more focused on preventing people from receiving doses than encouraging them to get the shots.
But now, Germany appears to have entered a new, more hopeful phase of recovery. Daily rates of new infections have been dropping steadily since April 21, and the country’s vaccine numbers have risen quickly over the past months. On April 28 alone, the country administered more than one million shots. More than 30 percent of the population has now received an initial injection.
“We appear to have broken the third wave,” Jens Spahn, the country’s health
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