Angela Merkel did not "refuse" the AstraZeneca vaccine, despite this being reported

German Chancellor Angela Merkel at a news conference in Berlin, Germany, Friday Feb. 19, 2021.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel at a news conference in Berlin, Germany, Friday Feb. 19, 2021. Copyright Annegret Hilse/AP
Copyright Annegret Hilse/AP
By Hebe CampbellMatthew Holroyd
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Newspapers claimed the German Chancellor refused to have the vaccine. However, she wasn't offered it because she is above the age threshold.


German Chancellor Angela Merkel did not refuse an Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, despite some news outlets reporting this.

Misleading reports and headlines in the UK rumoured that Angela Merkel "refused" to receive jab from Oxford University and pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca, despite "1.4 million doses going unused in Germany."

Many reports cited an interview the Chancellor gave with German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ).

In the interview, Merkel said: "I am 66 years old and I do not belong to the group recommended for Astra-Zeneca".

The German government states that only those people "in the top priority group who are aged between 18 and 64" can be given the AstraZeneca vaccine.

"This is a safe and highly effective vaccine, one of three currently approved for use in the European Union," the Federal Government adds on their website.

"All the authorities tell us that this vaccine can be trusted," said Merkel, who is two years older than the upper recommended threshold.

"As long as vaccines are as scarce as they are now, you can't choose what to vaccinate with," the Chancellor added to FAZ.

UK news organisations, therefore, took her quotes out of context to sound like she did not want the jab.

Germany, alongside other European Union member states, has been criticised for its perceived slowness in rolling out coronavirus vaccines to citizens.

But at a crucial moment for public health authorities across Europe, misleading headlines can trigger vaccine hesitancy and fuel anti-vax narratives.

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