From 16. March, vaccinations are compulsory for healthcare and nursing staff in Germany. FOCUS Online spoke with a nurse at Itzehoe Hospital who refuses to be vaccinated and now fears for his job, which he actually loves. Henning Lachmann explains why he refuses the Corona vaccination, what inner conflicts he is currently going through and what he would do if he had to quit his job.
Henning Lachmann (29) is a nurse with heart and soul. He has worked at the Itzehohe Clinic in Schleswig-Holstein for almost ten years. Every day he commutes 40 kilometers to work, takes care of patients in shifts, washes them, treats their wounds, gives them medication and food, changes bandages, accompanies them to the toilet.
Lachmann loves his job, couldn’t imagine doing any other. "My heart is in it," he says in an interview with FOCUS Online. Of course it is often exhausting. Two years ago, he reduced his working hours to 33 hours a week in order to cope better with the workload and to protect his health. The single man is satisfied with his monthly salary of 2200 euros. "I get along well with the money."
Compulsory vaccination: nurse loves job – and now has to tremble
The nurse and his colleagues in the department of general, vascular and visceral surgery do not lack for work. The ward has a total of 36 beds plus four emergency beds, where patients are cared for after operations on the gall bladder, intestines, pancreas or vessels. "The beds are almost always full," Lachmann says. "Actually, I should never be out of a job."
But that could soon change. Reason: From the age of 16. March 2022, mandatory vaccination for healthcare and nursing staff will apply in Germany. According to the Infection Protection Act, employees in clinics, nursing homes, doctors’ and dentists’ offices, rescue and nursing services, birthing centers and other medical and nursing facilities must submit proof of full vaccination protection or recovery by this date – or a doctor’s certificate stating that they cannot be vaccinated.
Skepticism, fear, uncertainty: "I will not be vaccinated!"
This circumstance could become a problem for Henning Lachmann, because he will not show such a certificate to his employer. "I don’t get vaccinated!", the nurse explains to FOCUS Online. "For various reasons." The most important one."
Lachmann knows that hundreds of millions of people around the world have been vaccinated against the coronavirus without suffering any damage. He’s familiar with assurances from health policy makers and scientists that vaccines – whether from Biontech, Moderna, AstraZeneca, Pfizer or Johnson& Johnson – are safe and protect against severe disease progression. And of course he knows that the compulsory vaccination in the health sector was not decided out of arbitrariness, but to better protect particularly vulnerable people.
Nevertheless, he is skeptical. He has reservations.
Experts: "Serious side effects are very rare"
"I don’t trust the vaccine. I am afraid of this," says Henning Lachmann to FOCUS Online. He said he knows that so far, serious side effects have only occurred "in extremely few cases," heart muscle inflammation, for example, thrombosis, allergic reactions and nerve damage.
For classification: The Paul Ehrlich Institute, which is responsible for the safety of vaccines, listed at the end of December 2021, in how many of the 123 milli-o-nen vaccinations there were abnormalities, which were administered nationwide until the end of November. According to the report, 1.6 suspected cases per 1000 doses had been reported by then – equivalent to 0.16 percent. Considering only the severe reactions, the reporting rate is 0.2 suspected cases per 1000 vaccination doses – 0.02 percent.
Experts’ conclusion: "According to current knowledge, serious side effects are very rare and do not change the positive benefit-risk ratio of the vaccines."
Henning Lachmann: Highly personal, private decision
But all this cannot convince nurse Lachmann. In his view, "far too little is said in public about vaccine damage". This makes him "even more skeptical". And perhaps he, of all people, would belong to the very small group that suffers severe side effects. Another argument: "Despite vaccination, I can become infected with Corona and infect other people."
To let itself not inoculate, is its most personal, completely private decision, stresses the 29-J?hrige, which is neither a Corona denier nor Querdenker or conspiracy theorist. For him, it doesn’t matter that 94 percent of German hospital doctors and 90 percent of nursing staff were already fully vaccinated last July. He says: "I am young and healthy, I can do without the vaccination."
Nurses: "We work with heart, not compulsory vaccination!"
He is not alone in this attitude. Thousands of employees in clinics and nursing homes throughout Germany have not yet been vaccinated against Corona – and do not intend to do so. Many are already looking around for new jobs, taking their protest to the streets ("We work with heart, not with compulsory vaccination!") and address politicians in open letters. Their key demands: "We urge reconsideration of the ban on working for nurses who have not been vaccinated against Covid-19."
As a nurse who comes into close contact with weakened patients, Lachmann is nevertheless aware of his great responsibility. Before he starts his work on the ward, he always makes an antigen test, as hospital management prescribes for unvaccinated employees. Once the test showed a false-positive result. The subsequent PCR test proved: false alarm, no Corona.
No access and no salary for unvaccinated staff
In a few weeks, a negative Corona test will probably no longer be enough for Henning Lachmann to even be allowed to enter the hospital. As early as mid-December 2021, the managing board of Itzehoe Hospital informed all employees about the future strict rules. The letter states:
"Who until 15. March does not have full vaccination protection, will be allowed to work from 16. March exempted. The employee can basically work at the hospital and its affiliated facilities in any area more are deployed, consequently is also no longer paid a salary (also no social benefits!). These are legal requirements to which we are bound. There will be no exceptions."
Deadline 16. March: "I’m afraid for my existence"
The announcement has stirred up Henning Lachmann and plunged him into a deep inner conflict. Injection or unemployment – the nurse is now faced with this decision after ten years in the profession. "I’m scared," he tells FOCUS Online. "I have been afraid for weeks. Afraid of losing my job, afraid for my livelihood."
He reports a "tremendous pressure" he feels he is currently under. He speaks of "coercion" and "blackmail". He is not referring to his employer, who is merely implementing the legal requirements, but to the political decision-makers who have decided. "They certainly did this with the best of intentions, but for people like me, the consequences are fatal," Lachmann said.
Nurse: "With a broken heart and great sadness"
His colleagues in the ward already know that he does not get vaccinated. "Thank God they don’t ostracize me, there’s no bullying or anything," says caregiver. "They are sad, some also do not understand, but actually it is not talked about." At some point, Henning Lachmann will have to inform his superiors, at the latest when the duty roster for March is made. Then the longtime caregiver will explain that from 16. March can probably no longer count on him.
"In the worst case, I will turn my back on the clinic with a broken heart and great sadness," says Lachmann. At the same time the caregiver explains that he will not clear his job without a fight. "If the clinic me on 16. March free of charge would release or even quit, I would sue against it."
Lachmann hopes for solution, but would also fight
Lachmann refers to the regulations of the on 10. December 2021 amended Infection Protection Act. According to the letter, clinic administrators are not initially required to immediately release employees who have not provided them with proof of vaccination by the deadline. Instead, they must "immediately inform the competent health authority". According to the Federal Ministry of Health, the health department decides "according to dutiful discretion in individual cases on the further measures" such as bans on entering or activities. This would "also take into account the staffing situation at the facility". In German: No doctor or nurse who does not vaccinate automatically loses his job.
Nurse Henning Lachmann hopes there will be "still some positive solution" for him and others affected with similar reservations. If not, he is even considering going to Karlsruhe. As a precaution, he has contacted lawyers around the Dresden-based attorney Frank Hannig, who posted a sample constitutional complaint online this Monday. The corresponding template has already been downloaded 6500 times.