FAQ About the Coronavirus

 

For information on regulations currently in place at RWTH, such as work from home arrangements, as well as guidelines on holding courses and events, please visit: Measures Currently In Effect to Contain the Spread of the Coronavirus

On this web page, we provide you with FAQ sections on the following topics:

 

General Questions About the Coronavirus

What do I have to be aware of when entering University premises?

From November 24, 2021, the 3G rule will apply to all RWTH employees. An event-related 3G rule has already been in effect for some time for both courses and other events at RWTH. These regulations aim to protect employees and students from infection. Considering the above regulations, the Rectorate has now decided that, as a matter of principle, the 3G rule will apply to anyone accessing any of RWTH’s buildings. Therefore, any persons who enter the University premises must have appropriate proof of 3G compliance from November 24, 2021, onward.

The heads of the university institutions, any individuals appointed by them, and members of University Security are authorized to check this proof. Should someone not be able to provide sufficient proof, they are to be expelled from the premises under the University’s rights as the householder. If necessary, University Security is to be called in.

The Department of Facilities Management will promptly provide appropriate signage for all accessible entrances to university buildings. A template (pdf) is also available here.

The AHA+L Rules (distancing-hygiene-mask + proper ventilation) are another essential part of RWTH’s safety concept to protect against infection in everyday working life when dealing with colleagues, students, or visitors.

Since we cannot guarantee that the minimum distance can be maintained in the corridors or rooms at all locations, all members, visitors, and guests of the University are required to wear a medical mask.

If not enough masks are available for employees, these can be ordered in the RWTH Purchasing Portal. They count as so-called occupational health and safety equipment, which must be financed by the employer, i.e. the individual university institution. 

Please actively support the implementation of these regulations, which are intended to protect all university members.

How can I protect myself?

Good hand hygiene, covering your coughs and sneezes, and avoiding close contact with others can protect against respiratory diseases.

The "AHA Rules" (Distancing-Hygiene-Mask) are part of RWTH's safety concept and help prevent infections when dealing with colleagues, students, or visitors.

Please abide by the following recommendations for good cough etiquette:

  • Keep a distance of at least two meters from other people when sneezing and coughing.
  • Sneeze and cough into a disposable tissue.
  • Always wash your hands after blowing your nose, sneezing, and coughing.
  • If you do not have a tissue to hand, you should keep the crook of your arm in front of your face when coughing and sneezing.

What are the possible signs of infection?

The incubation period for infection with the coronavirus is about five to six days as a rule and, in exceptional cases, up to 14 days. Please be aware of the following symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Sore throat
  • Body aches
  • General malaise
  • Changes to, or loss of sense of taste or smell

What should I do if I have any symptoms?

It is hard to tell the coronavirus apart from other respiratory illnesses and influenza due to its unspecific symptoms.

If you notice you have one or more of the symptoms above, we strongly recommend that you contact your family doctor by phone to discuss how to proceed.

Avoid all unnecessary contact with other people and, if possible, stay at home. You can contact the University Medical Center for advice via or by telephone at +49 241 80 94444. We can include an interpreter, if the need arises. Please refrain from unannounced visits to the University Medical Center.

How can I tell if I have been infected?

If you have any symptoms, you should get tested using PCR diagnostics.

Please make sure you contact a family doctor in advance to request this test. You can find local family doctors on the website of the Kassenärztliche Vereinigung Nordrhein. The public health department also does testing. To contact the local Aachen branch, call +49 241 5198-5300 or send an .

What should I do if I test positive for Covid-19 disease?

If you have been diagnosed with Covid-19 disease (no suspected cases), please contact the University Medical Center immediately at +49 0241 80 94444. Please inform your supervisor if you are employed by RWTH. Please also note that you are not allowed to enter Uniklinik RWTH Aachen if you have Covid-19 symptoms or an acute case of Covid-19 disease.

What can I do if I am affected by quarantine measures?

The quarantine measures mandated by the responsible authorities must be followed in any case.

What do I have to do as a "contact person"?

Detailed information on who counts as a close contact person and the steps they have to take can be found at the RKI Website.

The following applies to RWTH employees:

As soon as a contact person is officially requested to quarantine, they must notify RWTH as soon as possible via their supervisors and work from home while self-isolating. Please make sure to clear up any necessary technical matters (computer, VPN, etc.). The HR Department will also be happy to answer your questions.

If all safety precuations were implemented at the workplace (medical mask, distancing), the contact persons at the University can continue to work in compliance with the safety measures and self-observation as well as reduction of contact with third parties, where possible.

What do I have to do if I receive a warning from the Corona-Warn-App?

The app distinguishes between red and green warnings.

If your smartphone displays a red warning, in other words, an increased risk of infection, this means first of all that there’s a chance you may have been infected, not that you’ve been infected for sure. The app then gives you initial advice. Please follow this advice. Inform your supervisor and talk to them about the possibility of either working from home or taking frequent self-tests if you need to be on campus.

The RKI further recommends that you:

  • Observe the AHA+L rules: Keep your distance, observe hygiene guidelines, wear a mask, and regularly ventilate or air out rooms
  • Remain alert and monitor yourself for possible coronavirus symptoms
  • Contact your primary care physician or the University Medical Center if you experience symptoms and to assess your risk for having been infected

I am worried about my mental health; I suffer from anxiety or depression. Who can help me?

If you have any questions about mental health topics, the experienced psychological counseling team at RWTH is available to all students. The counseling service is also available in English. Employees can contact the team for Advising on Matters of Social Concern, Supervision, and Organizational Development.

Further contact points for psychological counseling emergencies can be found here.

Whom can I contact if I have any questions?

RWTH has set up a hotline for urgent questions by staff and students: .

Please note that our hotline staff are not in a position to provide any medical advice – we recommend that you contact the medical on-call service by phone at 116 117 or the local public health department (Gesundheitsamt).

For citizens of the city of Aachen and the StädteRegion Aachen, an additional coronavirus hotline has been set up in addition to the 115 number. It is only to be used for general information on the subject as well – not for personal medical advice. This hotline is available Monday to Friday from 9am to 3pm, at +49 241 510051.

The NRW Ministry of Health has also set up a hotline for questions on the coronavirus at +49 211 9119 1001 (Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm).

The authorities expressly request that the emergency numbers 110 and 112 are not used unless there is an actual emergency.

It is important that you closely follow the latest information provided by the German Federal Foreign Office, the Robert Koch Institute, and the German Federal Centre for Health Education, BZgA for short. The BZgA also provides information on protecting yourself from the coronavirus.

The Rectorate is monitoring the situation carefully in order to initiate further appropriate measures in case of acute need.

The website of the Commissioner for Migration, Refugees and Integration offers links to documents in various languages, including English and Turkish, on its coronavirus (de) information web page. Furthermore, it recommends the Handbook Germany website which provides comprehensive information on the coronavirus in several languages.

I need signage. Who can I ask about this?

If you are missing coronavirus-related signage in an RWTH building, please feel free to email

 

FAQ About Vaccinations

Is RWTH offering the opportunity to get vaccinated against COVID-19?

Yes. The University Medical Center has been vaccinating against COVID-19 since Tuesday, June 8, 2021. Since November 22, 2021, those who are eligible can also receive a booster vaccination there.

Who is eligible to get vaccinated at the University Medical Center?

Due to the University Medical Center's mandate to provide care, RWTH has established a vaccination service for all members of the University, FH Aachen University of Applied Sciences, Studierendenwerk, and Uniklinik RWTH Aachen.

How can I make an appointment for vaccination?

All those who have not yet been vaccinated and need two vaccination appointments can register for a vaccination with the Comirnaty® vaccine (BioNTech/Pfizer) using this link. The second vaccination appointment will take place three weeks after the first appointment and will be booked automatically.

If you only want to book a single appointment, you can do so at this link.

  1. Appointment for a second vaccination
    • 3-6 weeks after initial vaccination with Comirnaty® (BioNTech/Pfizer)
    • 4-6 weeks after initial vaccination with Spikevax® (Moderna)
    • from 4 weeks after a Johnson&Johnson vaccine with Comirnaty® (BioNTech/Pfizer)
  2. Appointment for a booster vaccine

    Generally no earlier than six months after the second vaccination

  3. Vaccination after proven coronavirus infection
    • Individuals who have had a COVID-19 infection should receive one vaccine dose, no earlier than four weeks after infection.
    • For individuals who have been confirmed by a laboratory to be infected with COVID-19 after the first vaccine dose, the second dose should be administered no earlier than four weeks after recovery.
    • Individuals who have been confirmed by a laboratory to be infected with COVID-19 before or after vaccination are not recommended to have the booster vaccine.

What must be considered when scheduling an appointment?

The online tool for managing vaccination appointments makes it possible for eligible individuals to choose an appointment slot within the opening hours of the vaccination center.

Please take into account that, with the Comirnaty® (BioNTech/Pfizer) vaccine, there will be a follow-up appointment three weeks later. This second vaccination appointment can only be changed (during your first appointment) at Uniklinik if you have valid reasons. For this reason, when making your first appointment, please ensure that you will be able to attend the follow-up appointment too.

The booster vaccine should usually be administered six months after the initial vaccination consisting of two doses. Individuals who have had laboratory-confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection before or after COVID-19 vaccination are not currently recommended to have a booster vaccine.

You will receive one vaccine dose per appointment. Due to the short shelf-life of the vaccines, please refrain from making multiple bookings and, if possible, from changing appointments at short notice. Even though we no longer have a vaccine shortage in Germany, it is different elsewhere in the world. Therefore, please be respectful of the resources made available because we do not want to waste any doses.

If you are not able to attend an appointment, please contact the vaccination center (0241 80 38777 or coronaimpfung@hsa.rwth-aachen.de) immediately. 

Can I still get vaccinated at a vaccination center or general practitioner’s practice?

Yes, of course.

Can you receive Influenza and COVID-19 Vaccinations at the same time?

According to the STIKO's recommendation, COVID-19 vaccinations and the administration of other inactivated vaccines (which contain killed pathogens or only pathogen components, and which do not reproduce and cannot cause disease) can be administered simultaneously. This is especially true for influenza vaccinations if there is an indication for vaccination against both influenza and COVID-19. In this case, the injections should be administered to different limbs. When COVID-19 vaccines and influenza vaccines (including high-dose vaccines) are administered concurrently, it should be noted that vaccine reactions may occur more frequently than when administered separately. Efficacy and safety when different vaccines are used concurrently are generally equivalent to those when each is used alone.

Attenuated vaccines (e.g., measles, mumps, and rubella, chickenpox) should be administered with a minimum interval of 14 days before and after each COVID-19 vaccination.

Where can I find the RWTH Vaccination Center?

Vaccinations are offered at the Vaccination Center, Uniklinik RWTH Aachen, Spiegelsaal, Elevator B2, Floor E, Corridor 03, Room 01.

Is there any parking available for RWTH members attending the Vaccination Center?

If you have an appointment for vaccination, you can use the RWTH parking garage at Forckenbeckstraße 50. If you do not have a RWTH parking permit for parking zone U, you can obtain a free day pass the . To obtain a pass, please send them an email several days in advance of your appointment.

Does the Medical Center pass my personal data on to third parties?

As part of the so-called Digital Vaccination Rate Monitoring, the University Medical Center submits the following data to the Bundesdruckerei: first name, last name, date of birth, gender, postal code, vaccination date, batch number, vaccine, first follow-up vaccination, date of recording. The data is temporarily stored there on behalf of the RKI (Robert Koch Institute) and retrieved daily by the RKI.

Will I also receive a digital vaccination certificate from the University Medical Center?

You can obtain a digital vaccination certificate after vaccination on site at the Vaccination Center at Uniklinik RWTH Aachen or at a pharmacy. You can find out in which pharmacy a corresponding offer is available, for example, here. Take your vaccination certificate and an identification document with you.

Further information on the digital vaccination certificate can be found on the website of the Federal Ministry of Health (de).

Am I required to submit my vaccination certificate to RWTH as my employer?

No, workers are not required to let their employer know whether or not they are vaccinated against coronavirus. 

I got my Covid-19 vaccination outside of Europe. Will it be recognized as proof of a 3G option here?

Whether or not your vaccination will be recognized as proof of fulfilling the 3G regulation depends on the type of vaccine you have received. The Paul-Ehrlich-Institut has made pertinent information regarding the equivalence of vaccines available on its website.

The University Medical Center now offers individuals the opportunity to be issued a vaccination certificate if they have received an equivalent vaccine to make it easier for them to have their compliance with the 3G regulation at RWTH checked.

The Vaccination Center of Uniklinik RWTH Aachen can issue certificates on the following dates:

  • September 7, 2021, 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.
  • September 8, 2021, 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.
  • September 9, 2021, 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.
  • September 16, 2021, 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.
  • September 23, 2021, 12 noon to 2 p.m.

After September 23, 2021, the vaccination clinic hours will be Thursdays from 12 noon to 2 p.m. Prior registration is not necessary.

I was vaccinated outside the EU and my vaccination is not recognized as equivalent by the Paul Ehrlich Institute. Can I still participate in events at RWTH?

You can participate by providing valid proof of a negative test.

I was vaccinated outside the EU and my vaccination is not recognized as equivalent by the Paul Ehrlich Institute. Can I still participate in events at RWTH? Can I get vaccinated with an equivalent vaccine?

Since September 17, 2021, the Standing Committee on Vaccination (STIKO) recommends a further vaccination series for individuals who have already been vaccinated abroad with COVID-19 vaccines not licensed in the EU in order to obtain "fully vaccinated" status in the EU. The vaccination series should begin from 28 days later.

It is now possible to register for two vaccination appointments at this link. The second vaccination appointment will take place three weeks after the first appointment. You will receive the Comirnaty® (BioNTech/Pfizer) vaccine at both appointments.

In such cases, increased local and systemic reactions may occur, which should be reported to the Paul-Ehrlich-Institut (PEI).

I was vaccinated outside the EU, but my vaccination is recognized as equivalent by the Paul Ehrlich Institute. How can I make it easier to verify the equivalence of my vaccination at RWTH 3G compliance checks?

The University Medical Center now offers individuals who have received an equivalent vaccine the opportunity to be issued a vaccination certificate, so it will be easier for them to have their compliance with the 3G regulation checked at RWTH. This certificate will (only) be recognized as a vaccination certificate by RWTH(, however). Currently, this offer mainly targets individuals who have received a COVISHIELD vaccine. If the Paul-Ehrlich-Institut recognizes other products, this list will be extended accordingly.

The Vaccination Center of Uniklinik RWTH Aachen can issue these certificates during vaccination clinic hours.

Vaccination clinic hours are Thursdays from 12 noon to 2pm. Prior registration is not necessary. You will find the Vaccination Center at Uniklinik RWTH Aachen, Konferenzraum, Floor E, Corridor 3 at Elevator B2.

I have been vaccinated with a vaccine that is not recognized in the EU. Can I get another vaccination?

If you have been vaccinated with a vaccine not recognized in the EU and would like to get vaccinated against Covid again here in Germany, please talk to the doctors at the University Medical Center’s vaccination clinic first.

Vaccination clinic hours are Thursdays from 12 noon to 2pm. Prior registration is not necessary. You will find the Vaccination Center at Uniklinik RWTH Aachen, Konferenzraum, Floor E, Corridor 3 at Elevator B2.

 

Medical Questions About COVID-19 Vaccination

Can I choose which Covid-19 vaccine I get?

Yes, you can specify which vaccine you would like to be vaccinated with when booking your appointment.

At present, the Comirnaty® (BioNTech/Pfizer) and Spikevax® (Moderna) vaccines are available at the vaccination center.

The basic immunization is always administered with the Comirnaty® (BioNTech/Pfizer) vaccine and the booster vaccinations are administered with a single vaccination of the mRNA vaccine Comirnaty® (BioNTech/Pfizer) or Spikevax® (Moderna).

While booster vaccinations with Comirnaty®(BioNTech/Pfizer) are administered with the same dosage as the basic immunization, Spikevax® (Moderna) is administered in a lower dosage (half dose). It is irrelevant whether the basic immunization was administered with the same vaccine type or as mix-and-match shots. Immunodeficient individuals, however, receive the same dose of the basic shot (100 µg) in their booster vaccination.

When the same vaccine is used (Vaxzevria/mRNA vaccine or COVID-19 Vaccine Janssen/mRNA vaccine), as well as for the single vaccination of those who have recovered, Spikevax is administered at a dose of 100 µg.

The STIKO has updated its COVID-19 vaccine recommendation, stating that those under 30 should be vaccinated exclusively with the Comirnaty vaccine based on new safety data from the Paul-Ehrlich-Institut (PEI) and other international data. This recommendation applies to both basic immunization and possible booster vaccinations. Even if another vaccine was previously used, subsequent vaccinations should be given with Comirnaty.

Since the introduction of COVID-19 vaccinations with the mRNA vaccines Comirnaty (BioNTech/Pfizer) and Spikevax (Moderna), it has been known that myocarditis and/or pericarditis (heart muscle inflammation and pericarditis) have occurred in rare cases in younger individuals after administering these vaccines. Recent reports indicate that myocarditis and pericarditis have been observed more frequently in boys and young men and in girls and young women under 30 years of age after vaccination with Spikevax than after vaccination with Comirnaty. For those aged or older, there is no increased risk of myocarditis and pericarditis after vaccination with Spikevax.

How is the vaccine administered and who administers it?

The Vaccination Center is operated by the Medical Center of RWTH Aachen University.

Before you come in for your vaccination appointment, please read the information sheet thoroughly. Please bring the completed consent form and your Vaccination Certificate ("Impfausweis") with you to the appointment.

The vaccine is injected into the upper arm muscle by a doctor or a certified medical assistant (MFA) legally authorized to administer vaccinations. Afterward, a seating area (Café Lounge on the gallery level of the staff cafeteria) is available for the required observation period of 15 to 30 minutes. This area is staffed with medical personnel as well. They can provide help immediately, should anyone begin to experience acute side effects.

Consent and Information Sheet COVID-19 mRNA Vaccine

Who can get vaccinated?

Is vaccination against SARS-CoV-2 mandatory?

In Germany, vaccination against SARS-CoV-2 is voluntary and free of charge for all citizens. 

Ten reasons to get vaccinated:

1. Prevention is better than falling ill

No one can predict whether an infection with the coronavirus will be mild or severe. It is therefore best to avoid infection altogether and to get vaccinated against SARS-CoV-2. According to model calculations by the Robert Koch Institute, vaccinations have already prevented about 76,600 inpatient cases, about 19,600 intensive care cases, and more than 38,300 deaths.

2. Younger people can also become severely ill

Not only older people can become severely ill with COVID-19, but younger people can also have a severe disease progression and long-term consequences such as severe fatigue, persistent shortness of breath, or neurological damage ("Long COVID"). According to an estimate by the German Society for Pneumology and Respiratory Medicine, one in ten people with COVID-19 suffers from late complications.

3. The vaccines are safe and effective

All COVID-19 vaccines approved in Germany have undergone the usual EU testing procedure and meet the high European safety standards. This means that the quality, safety and efficacy of the vaccines were checked in exactly the same way as for all other medicines – only this time it was faster because all the relevant steps took place simultaneously instead of one after the other.

4. Vaccination poses fewer risks than infection with COVID-19.

Some people are confused and fear severe side effects of COVID-19 vaccination. Yet the risk of serious side effects following COVID-19 vaccination is just 0.02 percent. In contrast, the risk of encountering the virus unvaccinated is significantly greater: one in seven people who become infected must expect severe COVID-19 progression (14 percent).

5. Vaccinations are now easily available

Enough vaccine is now available to provide a timely vaccination offer to all adults as well as children and adolescents 12 years of age and older in Germany.

6. Those who are fully vaccinated protect themselves and others.

COVID-19 vaccination not only protects your own health. It also reduces the risk of transmitting SARS-CoV-2 to others. This also protects people who cannot get vaccinated - for example those who cannot receive vaccination due to pre-existing conditions or children under 12 for whom no vaccine has yet been approved.

7. Vaccination prevents spread of the virus - and further lockdowns.

Every vaccination helps keep the coronavirus in check and the pandemic under control. This is because the more people who are protected from infection through vaccination, the more frequently the virus encounters people who can no longer become infected - and the worse it can spread. This is also important in view of the dynamic infection pattern caused by the virus variants, because: The fewer infections there are, the lower the probability that new dangerous mutations will emerge.

8. Vaccination relieves the burden on the healthcare system.

The more people are protected from severe disease progression by being fully vaccinated, the fewer people will need hospital (intensive care) treatment. In addition, the fewer infections occur, the better contact tracing succeeds and chains of infection can be interrupted more quickly.

9. Vaccination will accelerate the return to normal

Whether it's social distancing, working from home, studying at home or home schooling - the pandemic has taken a toll on all of us. Thanks to vaccination progress, more normality has returned to our everyday lives. Nevertheless, no one should rely on the protection provided by more and more vaccinated people and the currently low incidence rates and forego vaccination. This is because, according to calculations by the Robert Koch Institute, at least 85 percent of 12- to 59-year-olds must be vaccinated against COVID-19 in order to reduce transmission of SARS-CoV-2 enough to create community protection in the population. For those over 60, the figure would need to be as high as 90 percent. That's why it still holds true: Every vaccination counts to end the pandemic!

10. Being fully vaccinated makes travel easier

Many countries make it easier for those who have been fully vaccinated to enter the country, and in many places the testing and quarantine obligation is also waived for those with valid proof of vaccination. This is because the likelihood that fully vaccinated persons will pass on the virus is significantly lower. There is no compulsory vaccination, but the best protection is offered by a complete vaccination in combination with the AHA+A+L formula (distancing, hygiene, protective mask, ventilation, use of the warning app).

Can people suffering from an acute illness get vaccinated?

Anyone suffering from an acute illness with a fever above 38.5°C should not be vaccinated until they have fully recovered. However, a cold or slightly elevated temperature (below 38.5°C) are not valid reasons to postpone immunization. Vaccination is possible as soon as you are free from fever and other symptoms after an illness.

Can individuals with chronic diseases get vaccinated?

Chronic diseases such as high blood pressure, diabetes, asthma, cardiac or renal insufficiency, or obesity do not constitute a contraindication to vaccination. Neither a lower protective effect nor an increased side effect rate are expected.

Can individuals who are taking immunosuppressive drugs, have an immune disease, or a malignant disease get vaccinated?

It is particularly important for immunodeficient individuals to be vaccinated because they are at increased risk of a severe course of COVID-19. Therefore, generally speaking, vaccination is especially advised here.

When administering COVID-19 vaccinations, consider that:

  • Immunosuppressive or immunomodulatory treatments may be continued even if vaccine administration is pending.
  • However, for the best possible vaccine efficacy, it is recommended that immunosuppression be minimized at the time of vaccination, i.e., that the vaccination is timed, for example, in the middle of the administration interval of the immunosuppressive or immunomodulatory medication.
  • If antineoplastic therapy ("chemotherapy") is planned, vaccination should occur at least two weeks prior to its initiation to allow for a sufficient immune response.

However, there is now strong evidence that the body's immune response is weaker, so vaccination only provides reduced protection against infection. Administration of a third dose, (booster vaccine) at least 6 months after the full initial vaccination, may enhance vaccine protection (see "What are the recommendations regarding booster vaccines?").

In the 11th update published in Epidemiological Bulletin 39/2021, the STIKO comments on the COVID-19 vaccination recommendation of immunodeficient individuals.

Can people with allergies get vaccinated?

In principle, allergic or anaphylactic reactions can occur in very rare cases (1 case per 100,000 to 1 million vaccinations) with any vaccine (not only against COVID-19). This may be due either to the vaccine itself or to adjuvants/additives in the vaccine.

For patients with the following diseases from the allergic/ atopic group, there is no evidence for increased risk (compared to the normal population) in connection with COVID-19 vaccination when using the approved vaccines:

  • Eczema (atopic dermatitis)
  • Hives (urticaria and angioedema)
  • Allergic rhinitis (hay fever)
  • Asthma (but asthma should be well controlled at the time of vaccination)
  • Nasal Polyps
  • Food allergies (in particular, those allergic to eggs are not affected, as there is no chicken egg protein in the Biontech or Moderna vaccine)
  • Insect venom allergy
  • Painkiller intolerance
  • Antibiotic allergy
  • Contact allergy (e.g. nickel, fragrance or preservative allergy)

Please contact us if you have experienced one of the following in the past:

  • Severe allergic reaction to a previous non-COVID 19 vaccination
  • Severe allergic reaction after taking medication (especially laxative solutions) or getting injections
  • Severe allergic reaction after taking any medication and you suffer from mastocytosis
  • Severe allergic reaction due to an unknown cause

Patients with a known previous severe allergic reaction to ingredients of the vaccine or to the first COVID-19 vaccination cannot be vaccinated. Among others, the following ingredients may play a role:

  • Polyethylene glycol (=Macrogol)
  • Tromethamine/Trometamol

(See the answer to: What ingredients do the vaccines contain?)

Here is some more information for individuals undergoing treatment at the time of the vaccination:

Patients receiving treatment for the above conditions (including antibody therapies such as Xolair®, Dupixent®, Nucala®, Fasenra®) may be vaccinated. Patients are currently recommended to wait about one week between having treatment and the vaccination.

As with all other vaccinations, a minimum break of one week should be observed between the administration of subcutaneous allergen hyposensitization/specific immunotherapy (SCIT) and the COVID-19 vaccination. Clinical experience regarding vaccination (e.g. with the Biontech or Moderna vaccine) and simultaneous SLIT treatment has not been documented for many allergen immunotherapy treatments. In order to distinguish possible reactions to the COVID-19 vaccination from reactions to SLIT, allergological experience advocates that SLIT should be paused at least 1-2 days after having the COVID-19 vaccination.

Can pregnant or breastfeeding women get vaccinated?

The STIKO recommends unvaccinated pregnant women from the second trimester and unvaccinated breastfeeding women get vaccinated. They should receive two separate doses of an mRNA vaccine. Although no safety data for the Comirnaty and Spikevax vaccines are available, the STIKO advocates the Comirnaty and Spikevax vaccines for pregnant women, regardless of their age.

If the pregnancy was detected after the first vaccination had already been given, the second vaccination should be given only from the second trimester. The STIKO specifically recommends women of childbearing age, especially if they would like to have children, to be vaccinated so that they already have very good protection against this disease before the onset of a possible pregnancy. Close contacts of pregnant women should also be vaccinated against COVID-19 according to the recommendation.

  • Being pregnant is a relevant risk factor for a severe course of COVID-19.
  • COVID-19 vaccination protects both pregnant and non-pregnant women very well against symptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infections and against severe courses of COVID-19 (that may result in hospitalization).
  • According to current studies, severe adverse events following vaccination in pregnancy (such as spontaneous abortion up to 19 weeks gestation, stillbirths, malformations) are not frequent.
  • It has been proven that after vaccination, the mother's antibodies are transmitted to the fetus via the placenta. Whether this can result in clinically relevant protection for the newborn is not clear at this time.
  • There is no evidence that COVID-19 vaccination during breastfeeding poses a risk to mother or child.

Pregnant or breastfeeding employees are welcome to seek personal advice on this issue by calling the hotline of the Vaccination Center hotline (38777).

Can women trying to conceive get vaccinated against COVID-19?

Yes, women actively trying to conceive can also be vaccinated against COVID-19. The available COVID-19 vaccines have been tested on adults, including women trying to conceive, and were found to be safe and effective.

Rumors that the vaccine impairs fertility are circulating at the moment. These rumors are, however, false. In the extensive clinical trials conducted prior to the approval of the vaccines, there is no evidence of the occurrence of infertility. The rumor is based on the fact that the protein encoded in the vaccines has a similar structure to a protein that is important for fertility. This similarity is, in fact, limited to a few sections of the protein. However, such similarities occur very frequently and are not specific to the COVID-19 vaccine. If such a similarity resulted in infertility, then the COVID-19 infection would also cause infertility. However, this has not been observed worldwide. The Paul-Ehrlich-Institute evaluates the safety of the vaccine as follows: "Drawing on all available data, the drug approval process provides the highest possible certainty for excluding damage to reproductive organs and fertility impairment in humans." So women wishing to conceive can get vaccinated against COVID-19.

Changes to the menstrual cycle following COVID-19 vaccination have been observed and are currently being further investigated. Such changes to the cycle are also known with other vaccinations, may occur after an infection, and are attributed to activation of the immune system. A direct causal relationship is not known. However, women should be informed about this possible side effect of vaccination to prevent uncertainty.

The observed changes to the menstrual cycle are temporary, without pathological significance, and are not associated with infertility.

A study from Israel shows data from 36 couples who were undergoing fertility treatment for artificial insemination (IVF) during the period of COVID-19 vaccination. The duration and characteristic parameters of ovarian stimulation, the number and quality of oocytes retrieved, and the sperm parameters examined were compared before and after vaccination. No difference between these parameters in the observation period of 7-85 days after vaccination was observed. In an American study that examined sperm parameters in 45 men, no difference was found before and after vaccination with two doses of an mRNA vaccine.

There is, therefore, no cause for concern about possible infertility following a COVID-19 vaccination. Women who wish to have children can therefore be vaccinated against COVID-19.

Should those who have already been infected with COVID-19 get vaccinated against it?

The STIKO recommends one vaccine dose for anyone who has already had a SARS-CoV-2 infection.
The following recommendations apply:

  1. For those who have tested positive for infection with SARS-CoV-2 and experienced symptoms, STIKO recommends one vaccine dose be administered, typically about 6 months after infection. Since vaccine doses are increasingly more available, however, and considering the proven safety record of Covid-19 vaccination following infection, those who have recovered from SARS-CoV-2 can now be vaccinated as early as 4 weeks after all COVID-19 symptoms have subsided.
  2. For individuals who have tested positive for SARS-Cov-2 but were asymptomatic, the recommended single dose of vaccine can be given as early as 4 weeks after laboratory diagnosis.
  3. Anyone who has already been vaccinated once against COVID-19 and then tested positive for infection with SARS-Cov-2 with a pathogen test later should receive the second vaccine dose about 6 months after diagnosis or recovery from COVID-19 symptoms. Again, administration of the vaccine is possible as early as 4 weeks after recovering from symptoms.
  4. Individuals who have tested positive for infection via laboratory testing following the Janssen vaccine are not recommended to have a vaccination with a further mRNA vaccine.
  5. Individuals who have been proved to have a Covid-19 infection via a laboratory before or after Covid-19 vaccination are not recommended to have a booster vaccine.

Why is one vaccine dose sufficient following a SARS-CoV-2 infection?
Due to immunity after infection, one dose is sufficient, as this already allows high antibody concentrations to be achieved and these are not further increased by a second vaccine dose. Whether and at what stage a second COVID-19 vaccination will be necessary later on cannot be determined at present. For individuals with impaired immune function, it should be decided on a case-by-case basis whether one vaccine dose is sufficient or whether a full series of vaccinations should be administered. This depends largely on the type and severity of immunodeficiency. Even if more than six months have passed since diagnosis, one vaccine dose is sufficient for complete basic immunization.

Overall, the study results available to date do not indicate that vaccination after a history of SARS-CoV-2 infection would be problematic or associated with any risks; this applies to the safety, effectiveness, and tolerability of vaccination. The pivotal studies of the two mRNA vaccines have included participants who had previously has a SARS-CoV-2 infection. Vaccination was not tolerated worse by these individuals than by primary seronegative study participants. Local and systemic reactions after vaccination were even less severe in some cases. Vaccination effectiveness is no different if an individual has already had a SARS-CoV-2 infection. With this in mind, there is no need to exclude the presence of acute, asymptomatic, or undiagnosed SARS-CoV-2 infection by laboratory diagnosis before a COVID-19 vaccination.

Detection of SARS-CoV-2 infection can be confirmed by a PCR test. Specific SARS-CoV-2 antibody detection, performed in a laboratory that is accredited and/or operates according to RiLiBÄK, has become so reliable that it is now, in principle, suitable for detecting a condition following SARS-CoV-2 infection. However, antibody tests cannot be used for the detection of "recovered status" with the consequences derived from it. The reason for this is that even highly specific validated antibody tests cannot provide information on the time of infection and this must be certain since "recovered status" is defined for the period from at least 28 days to a maximum of six months after infection. Data are available that show the person is sufficiently protected for this period.
 
It is currently not known whether post-exposure vaccination after SARS-CoV-2 exposure can favorably influence the course of the infection or still prevent it.

What are the medical reasons (contraindications) against COVID-19 vaccination?
There are very few reasons (contraindications) why a person cannot be permanently or temporarily vaccinated against COVID-19.

According to the RKI, only very few people (individual cases) cannot be vaccinated because of allergies to ingredients of the COVID-19 vaccines (see "Can people with allergies be vaccinated?").
In general, individuals who cannot be vaccinated with one of the vaccine types (mRNA vs. vector-based) can be vaccinated with the other.

There are also two rare contraindications for the vector-based COVID-19 vaccine Vaxzevria (AstraZeneca): preexisting thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS) or capillary leak syndrome. Both are very rare pre-existing conditions (isolated cases). In these cases, mRNA vaccines can be used.

Children under 12 cannot currently be vaccinated.

Infections with temperatures >38 °C are a temporary contraindication; a vaccination can be administered after the fever has subsided.

Vaccination is generally not recommended for pregnant women before the second trimester.

Which vaccines will be used?

Four coronavirus vaccines are currently licensed in Germany, of which one is currently being used at Uniklinik RWTH Aachen: Comirnaty® (BioNTech/Pfizer).

Comirnaty® (BioNTech/Pfizer)

  • The Comirnaty® vaccine, jointly produced by BioNTech and Pfizer. Comirnaty® was approved by the European Medicines Agency on December 21, 2020.
  • COVID-19 Vaccine Moderna® from the company Moderna, which was developed in cooperation with the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). European Medicines Agency granted approval for the vaccine on January 7, 2021.

Viral vector vaccine

  • The viral vector vaccine AstraZeneca® by British-Swedish company AstraZeneca was approved by the European Medicines Agency on January 29, 2021.
  • COVID-19 Vaccine Janssen from Janssen-Cilag International (Johnson & Johnson) was approved by the European Medicines Agency on March 11, 2021. It only requires one vaccine dose, unlike the other three approved vaccines.

What is an mRNA vaccine?

The vaccines are genetically engineered in the laboratory and consist of mRNA (messenger RNA) packed into small lipid or fat droplets – so-called nanoparticles. The mRNA contains the blueprint for a surface antigen, the so-called spike antigen of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. When this mRNA reaches the target cell, it uses the body's own mechanism (ribosomes) to produce proteins, in this case, the viral surface antigen. The body then develops antibodies against these antigens in order to be able to protect itself accordingly in the event of actual contact with the virus. Viral proteins can also trigger a T cell response (CD4, CD8) (cellular immune response). T cells help the immune system fight intracellular infections and they can also kill the infected cells directly.

The mRNA remains in the cytoplasm of the cell and naturally decays there after a short time. The mRNA does not enter the nucleus, where the cell's DNA is located. There is also no evidence that the mRNA absorbed up by the body's cells after vaccination is transcribed into DNA.  For this reason, there are no changes in the genetic material of the cell.

What is a COVID-19 viral vector vaccine?

The vector viruses used in the AstraZeneca vaccine are adenoviruses (modified viruses that cause colds in chimpanzees), which are harmless to humans. The virus vaccine does not replicate (i.e. reproduce) in the human body and therefore cannot cause infection.

After vaccination, the virus vaccine containing the SARS-CoV-2 gene enters a few body cells. The cells use the gene to make the spike protein. The immune system recognizes it as an invader and, in response, produces antibodies and T cells that ideally protect against infection with the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus.

In natural adenovirus infections, no genetic alteration of human cells has been observed so far. Adenoviral vectors are generally considered non-integrating vectors, i.e. they do not integrate their genetic material into the cell genome. The genome of COVID-19 vector vaccines based on non-replicable adenoviruses, like that of other adenoviruses, remains outside the human DNA (extrachromosomal) in the nucleus of infected cells.

Also, in view of the fact that adenoviral vectors – unlike natural cold viruses – do not replicate in the human body due to genetic alterations and are rapidly eliminated by the body, there is no risk of the adenoviral vector DNA integrating into the human genome according to current scientific findings.

What ingredients do the vaccines contain?

In addition to the active ingredient (mRNA), the COVID-19 Vaccine Moderna® contains the following ingredients, according to the manufacturer's information:

  • the proprietary ionizable lipid SM-102
  • 1,2-Dimyristoyl-rac-glycero-3-methoxypolyethylene glycol-2000 [PEG2000-DMG]
  • Cholesterol
  • 1,2-Distearoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine [DSPC]
  • Tromethamine
  • Tromethamine hydrochloride
  • Acetic acid
  • Sodium acetate
  • Saccharose
  • Water for injections

In addition to the active ingredient (mRNA), the Comirnaty® vaccine by Biontech/Pfizer contains the following ingredients, according to the manufacturer:

  • ALC-0315 = (4-hydroxybutyl)azanediyl)bis(hexane-6,1-diyl)bis(2- hexyldecanoate)
  • ALC-0159 = 2-[(polyethylene glycol)-2000]-N,N-ditetradecylacetamide
  • DSPC= 2-Distearoyl-sn-glycero-3 phosphocholine
  • Cholesterol
  • Potassium chloride
  • Potassium dihydrogen phosphate
  • Sodium chloride
  • Disodium phosphate dihydrate
  • Saccharose
  • Water for injections

It does not contain adjuvant, nor preservatives, nor egg white.

According to the manufacturer, the stopper of the Comirnaty® vials is not made of natural rubber latex.

One dose (0.5 ml) of COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca vaccine contains:

  • Chimpanzee adenovirus encoding the SARS-CoV-2 spike glycoprotein ChAdOx1-S *, not less than 2.5 x 108 infectious units.

*Produced in genetically modified human embryonic kidney 293 (HEK) cells by recombinant DNA technology. This product contains genetically modified organisms (GMOs.)

The other ingredients are:

  • Histidine
  • Histidine hydrochloride monohydrate
  • Magnesium chloride hexahydrate
  • Polysorbate 80 (E 433)
  • Ethanol
  • Sucrose
  • Sodium chloride
  • Sodium edetate dihydrate (Ph.Eur.)
  • Water for injections

Was the vaccine adequately tested prior to approval?

The genome of the SARS-CoV-2 virus was fully decoded in January 2020 and the first vaccine candidates were already available by the end of December. This was made possible by overlapping or telescoping the different test phases (I/II and II/III) and forwarding all study results immediately to the regulatory authorities on a rolling basis, where they were prioritized, thus saving much time overall. Besides, never before has so much financial support been given to vaccine research worldwide, because it is clear to everyone that only effective vaccines available to a large proportion of the world’s population can contain the pandemic in the near future.

The European Medicines Agency’s approval for the Comirnaty® vaccine, jointly manufactured by BioNTech and Pfizer, was approved on December 21, 2020. The COVID-19 Vaccine Moderna® was approved on January 7, 2021. The third vaccine to be approved for the EU by the European Medicines Agency was the COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca® from British-Swedish company AstraZeneca on January 29, 2021.

COVID-19 Vaccine Janssen from Janssen-Cilag International (Johnson & Johnson) was approved by the European Medicines Agency on March 11, 2021.

The two mRNA vaccines are licensed for use from age ≥ 12 years and the two vector-based vaccines from age ≥18 years.

Why do two doses need to be administered?

The second dose further stimulates the immune system – already stimulated by the first dose – to produce sufficient antibodies against the virus. We know from other vaccinations that antibodies are not only produced more frequently, but they also last longer. Some diseases even require three vaccinations (e.g. hepatitis B or diphtheria).

How effective is the protection offered by vaccination?

From the approval study of the COVID-19 Vaccine Moderna® produced by Moderna, it is known that the effectiveness in over 15,000 vaccinated subjects was approximately 94 percent. This means that symptomatic COVID-19 infection was observed about 18 times less frequently in the vaccinated subjects than in the unvaccinated study participants.

The approval study of the Comirnaty® vaccine, jointly produced by BioNTech and Pfizer, showed an effectiveness rate of approximately 95 percent in over 20,000 vaccinated subjects, meaning that symptomatic COVID-19 infection was observed approximately 20 times less frequently in vaccinated subjects than in unvaccinated study participants.

According to current findings, the vector-based vaccine COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca has a 70% effectiveness against COVID-19 infection.

Current studies indicate that the available vaccines are also effective against virus variants. At present, Delta is the most widespread variant in Europe, dominating infection developments and displacing other variants.

The STIKO office's living systematic review shows that the effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccines Comirnaty, Spikevax, and Vaxzevria against infection from the Delta variant is 10 to 20 percent less than the effectiveness against the Alpha variant. There is also evidence that effectiveness against Delta with respect to any infection declines more rapidly than effectiveness against other variants.

Effective protection against severe COVID-19 infection remains high for the Comirnaty, Spikevax, and Vaxzevria vaccines, and effectiveness against symptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infection with the Delta variant is also good for all three vaccines.

A complete vaccination series is essential for good protection.

The COVID-19 vaccines induce neutralizing antibodies as well as T-cell immunity against many different domains (epitopes) of the spike protein of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Thus, a polyclonal immune response is induced here. As a result, single mutations usually do not have a very large impact on the effectiveness of vaccines. Since all currently available COVID-19 vaccines code for the spike protein of the original Wuhan type, it can be assumed that the effects of mutations in the virus variants on the effectiveness of the approved vaccines are, in principle, similar. However, if the effectiveness of the vaccines were to drop significantly due to further mutations in the viruses circulating here, the vaccine manufacturers would be able to adjust the available vaccines accordingly within a few weeks. All manufacturers are currently adapting vaccines in their clinics. The first approval for these adapted vaccines is expected in the second half of 2021.

How quickly does the vaccine become effective?

Full effectiveness only develops after the second dose. Correspondingly high antibody titers should develop approximately two weeks after the second dose, thus around five to six weeks following the first dose. However, the approval studies of the two vaccines COVID-19 Vaccine Moderna® and Comirnaty® also show that even the first vaccine dose has a certain effectiveness.

The AstraZeneca vaccine achieved 60% (41-73%) of effectiveness 28 to 34 days after the first dose, later increasing to 73% (27-90%).

What are the recommendations regarding booster vaccines?

The STIKO recently updated its COVID-19 vaccination recommendation (Nov. 18, 2021), stating that all individuals 18 or older should be administered a COVID-19 booster vaccine with an mRNA vaccine.

The STIKO, however, urges the following groups of individuals to be given priority regarding booster vaccines:

  •    Immunodeficienct individuals
  •    Those aged 70 or older
  •    Residents and persons cared for in an elderly care home
  •    Staff in medical and care facilities

The booster vaccine recommendation also applies to pregnant women from the second trimester.

Persons who have had a laboratory-diagnosed SARS-CoV-2 infection before or after their COVID-19 vaccination are not currently recommended to have a booster vaccine.

Booster vaccines should generally be administered 6 months following the last vaccine dose of the initial vaccination. Shortening the vaccination interval to 5 months may be considered on an individual basis or if sufficient doses and appointments are available.

The goals of extending the existing booster vaccine recommendation beyond the current priority groups, in addition to maintaining individual protection, are to reduce transmission of SARS-CoV-2 in the German population to mitigate waves of infection and prevent additional severe illness and deaths.

If possible, the mRNA vaccine that was used for the initial vaccination should be administered. If this is not available, the other mRNA vaccine may be used. Individuals under 30 and pregnant women should be vaccinated with Comirnaty® (BioNTech/Pfizer), even if the initial vaccination was with another vaccine because there is evidence that people under 30 have an increased risk of myocarditis and pericarditis after vaccination with Spikevax®(Moderna) compared to with Comirnaty® (BioNTech/Pfizer).

Booster vaccines with Comirnaty® (BioNTech/Pfizer) are administered with the same dose as for initial vaccination. Spikevax® (Moderna) is approved for booster vaccines for non-immunodeficient individuals at half the dose (50µg).

Does it make sense to determine the antibody titer before receiving a booster vaccination?

The STIKO does not recommend testing the vaccination success for COVID-19 vaccinations, neither after receiving the 1st vaccine dose nor after the 2nd vaccine dose.

To date, no serological correlate has been defined for testing the success of vaccination. For this reason, so far, no threshold value exists from which immunity can be assumed. Therefore, serological testing of the immune response is not recommended.

It should be noted that cellular immunity is built up after vaccination regardless of the presence of antibodies. Whether a serological correlate for efficacy can be defined in future is uncertain. For other vaccine-preventable diseases (e.g. pertussis) as well, no reliable serological correlate for protection has been defined so far.

Can vaccinated individuals pass the virus on to others?

A May 2021 study by the Robert Koch Institute found that, based on current knowledge, the risk of virus transmission through fully vaccinated individuals is lower, at the latest from day 15 after administration of the 2nd dose, than that of asymptomatic infected persons with a falsely negative rapid antigen test (Source: „Wie gut schützt die COVID-19-Impfung vor SARS-CoV-2-Infektionen und -Transmission? Systematischer Review und Evidenzsynthese“).

Thus, there is no such thing as 100% sterile immunity, especially with the more infectious delta variant. Just as a negative test, especially a rapid antigen test, does not offer 100% certainty, as the result can be a false negative or a false positive.

The extent to which virus transmission is reduced may also depend on the virus variant. Recent studies show that vaccination provides protection against symptomatic and asymptomatic infections even for the currently dominant delta variant. However, protection appears to be slightly reduced compared to the alpha variant.

This risk must be further reduced by adhering to the infection prevention and control measures. Therefore, everyone must continue to comply with the hygiene rules both at work and in private.

From a public health perspective, vaccination appears to reduce the risk of viral transmission to the extent that vaccinated individuals no longer play a significant role in the epidemiology of the disease.

Can vaccine breakthrough infections occur and how common are they?

No vaccine is 100% effective. The vaccines against the SARS-COV-2 virus show very high efficacy, even against the significantly more contagious delta variant.

The Robert Koch Institute has conducted continuous monitoring of vaccine effectiveness since the beginning of the vaccination campaign.

A vaccine breakthrough infection is defined as SARS-CoV-2 infection (with clinical symptoms) diagnosed in a fully vaccinated person via PCR test or pathogen isolation. Complete vaccination protection is assumed when at least two weeks have elapsed after a completed vaccination series (RKI).

As of the RKI Situation Report dated September 9, 2021, 30,880 probable vaccine breakthrough infections have been identified in Germany, out of 103,165,990 vaccine doses administered (54,890,847 fully vaccinated). (Source: Quelle RKI Wochenbericht 9.9.)

What do these figures mean in terms of vaccination effectiveness?

At present, it is clear that the majority of patients treated at Uniklinik RWTH Aachen have not been vaccinated.

For some time now, the vaccination status has to be included in the notification of COVID cases.

By comparing the proportion of fully vaccinated individuals among those infected with COVID-19 with the proportion of fully vaccinated persons in the population, it is possible to estimate the vaccination effectiveness.

The RKI arrives at the following assessment of estimated vaccine effectiveness (period of the last four weeks, week 32-35):

  • Protection against hospitalization: approximately 96% (age 18-59 years) and approximately 94% (age ≥60 years), respectively.
  • Protection from treatment in intensive care unit: approx. 97% (age 18-59 years) or approx. 94% (age ≥60 years)
  • Protection against death: approx. 100% (age 18-59 years) or approx. 91% (age ≥60 years)

Click here for the RKI's current report (de).

Statistically, it is expected that over time more and more breakthrough covid infections (that is, infection of fully vaccinated individuals) will be reprted as more and more people are vaccinated. With an increased spread of the virus, the probability of coming into contact with the virus increases for all people, including those who have been fully vaccinated.

What side effects or complications can arise?

In principle, a distinction must be made between mild but frequent reactions and rare but severe complications.

Harmless, mild reactions are actually a "good reaction" because they show that the body is responding to the vaccine and developing an immune response. Common and harmless vaccine reactions described in the approval studies of the COVID-19 Vaccine Moderna® and Cominarty® vaccines include redness or swelling of the injection site. Fever, fatigue, nausea, and muscle, joint, and headaches may also occur after vaccination. In very rare cases, swelling of the lymph nodes may also arise. Mild vaccination reactions occur more frequently in younger individuals and more often after the second vaccination. The vaccination reactions persisted for a maximum of one to two days and were reversible without exception. A painkiller or fever-reducing medication in the recommended dose can be taken in order to reduce possible complaints.

Serious adverse effects, on the other hand, go beyond a normal vaccination reaction and significantly burden the health of the vaccinated individual.

In the extensive pre-approval clinical trials, cases of acute facial paralysis were observed rarely (between 0.1% and 0.01%) after administration of the mRNA vaccines (Comirnaty : 4 cases after administration of the vaccine; Spikevax®: 3 cases after administration of the vaccine, and 1 case in the control group). In all cases, the facial paralysis regressed after a few weeks. These facial paralysis cases may be causally related to the vaccination. Hypersensitivity reactions were observed in rare cases (between 0.1% and 0.01%): Hives or facial swelling after administration of Comirnaty and 2 cases of facial swelling after administration of Spikevax®. Since the introduction of vaccination, anaphylactic reactions (immediate allergic reactions) have been reported in very rare cases. These occurred shortly after vaccination and required medical treatment. This is also very rare, but, in principle, life-threatening complication of vaccination. 

Please also read the section "Can people with allergies get vaccinated?"

Also since the introduction of vaccinations with mRNA vaccines Comirnaty (BioNTech/Pfizer) and Spikevax (Moderna), rare cases of myocarditis and pericarditis have been observed in young individuals after administration of the vaccines. Current reports show that myocarditis and pericarditis were observed more frequently in boys and young men and in girls and young women under 30 after vaccination with Spikevax than after vaccination with Comirnaty. For those aged 30 or over, there is no increased risk of myocarditis and pericarditis after vaccination with Spikevax. According to safety reports available to date, the acute course of vaccine-related myocarditis and pericarditis is predominantly mild.

Vaxzevria®

The most commonly reported vaccine reactions in the approval studies were tenderness at the injection site (more than 60%), pain at the injection site, headache and fatigue (more than 50%), muscle pain and malaise ( more than 40%), increased temperature and chills (more than 30%), joint pain and nausea (more than 20%). Frequently (between 1% and 10%), a decrease in blood platelet count (thrombocytopenia), vomiting, diarrhea, redness and swelling of the injection site, and fever have been observed. Occasionally (between 0.1% and 1%), lymph node swelling, decreased appetite, dizziness, drowsiness, increased sweating, itching, and a generalized rash occurred.

Since the introduction of the vaccine, blood clots (thromboses) associated with a reduction in the platelet count (thrombocytopenia), sometimes accompanied by bleeding, have been observed in very rare cases (less than 0.01%) after vaccination with Vaxzevria®. These included some severe cases with blood clots in different or unusual locations (e.g., in the brain as sinus vein thromboses and also in the abdomen), together with increased clotting activity or also bleeding throughout the body.

The majority of these cases occurred within 2 to 3 weeks after vaccination and predominantly in persons younger than 60 years. Some of the cases described ended fatally or with permanent damage. Also since the introduction of vaccination, very rare (less than 0.01%) cases of capillary leak syndrome have been observed following vaccination with Vaxzevria®, some in individuals who had previously experienced capillary leak syndrome, and some with fatal outcomes. Capillary leak syndrome occurred in the first days after vaccination and is characterized by rapidly progressive swelling of the arms and legs, sudden weight gain, and feeling of weakness and requires immediate medical attention. 

In addition, very rare cases of Guillain-Barré syndrome have been reported after vaccination with Vaxzevria®, some with fatal outcomes. Whether these cases are causally related to the vaccination is under further investigation. Guillain-Barré syndrome is characterized by weakness or paralysis in the legs and arms, which can extend to the chest and face and may require intensive medical care. Lastly, complications must be mentioned that are not caused by the vaccine but may be caused by the injection itself. Here, as with any other injection, there is an extremely small residual risk of bleeding, infection, or nerve and soft tissue injury, even with proper injection technique.

COVID-19 Vaccine Janssen®

The most commonly reported vaccine reactions in the studies were pain at the injection site (more than 40%), headache, fatigue, and muscle pain (more than 30%), and nausea (more than 10%). Frequently (between 1% and 10%), fever, cough, joint pain, redness and swelling of the injection site, and chills were reported. Occasionally (between 0.1% and 1%), tremors, sneezing, pain in the mouth and throat, general rash, increased sweating, weakness of muscles, pain in the arm or leg, back pain, general feeling of weakness, and malaise occurred. In rare cases (0.01% to 0.1%), hypersensitivity reactions and hives occurred. In addition, after vaccination with COVID-19 Vaccine Janssen®, blood clots (e.g. in the brain as sinus vein thrombosis or also in the abdominal cavity) associated with a reduction in the blood platelet count (thrombocytopenia) were observed in very rare cases (less than 0.01 %) and in some cases with a fatal outcome. These cases occurred within 3 weeks of vaccination and predominantly in persons younger than 60 years. Also since the introduction of vaccination, very rare cases of capillary leak syndrome have been observed after vaccination with COVID-19 Vaccine Janssen®, some in persons who had previously developed capillary leak syndrome and some with fatal outcomes. Capillary leak syndrome occurred in the first days after vaccination and is characterized by rapidly progressive swelling of the arms and legs, sudden weight gain, and feeling of weakness and requires immediate medical attention.

In addition, very rare cases (less than 0.01%) of Guillain-Barré syndrome have been reported after vaccination with COVID-19 Vaccine Janssen. These cases may be causally related to the vaccination. Guillain-Barré syndrome is characterized by weakness or paralysis in the legs and arms that may extend to the chest and face and may require intensive medical care. Since the introduction of vaccination, immediate allergic reactions (anaphylactic reactions) have been reported in very rare cases. These occurred shortly after vaccination and required medical treatment. In principle - as with all vaccines - in very rare cases an allergic immediate reaction up to shock or other also so far unknown complications cannot be excluded.

Why has the routine use of the AstraZeneca vaccine been temporarily suspended in Germany?

In Germany and other European countries, vaccination with the AstraZeneca vaccine has been temporarily suspended. This decision was taken on March 15, 2021, by the German Federal Ministry of Health on the advice of the Paul Ehrlich Institute, following an increased incidence of cerebral venous thrombosis associated with the vaccination. A total of seven people were affected in Germany, including six women with so-called sinus vein thrombosis, three of whom have since died. At the time of suspension, it was not clear whether this was a coincidental cluster or causally related to the vaccination, and time was needed to review the cases.

On March 18, 2021, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) recommended to continue vaccination with AstraZeneca because the benefits of the vaccination outweigh the potential risks and because a causal relationship to cerebral venous thrombosis and coagulation disorders could neither be safely excluded nor clearly proven. The use of the vaccine was then continued in Germany and also at Uniklinik RWTH Aachen from March 19, 2021. Currently, the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine is not planned for further initial vaccinations at Uniklinik.

How am I to behave before and after vaccination?

If you have fainted after a previous vaccination or other injection, are prone to immediate allergic or other reactions, please inform the doctor prior to vaccination. Then they can observe you after vaccination, if necessary. 

Please tell the clinician before vaccination if you have a clotting disorder or are taking anticoagulant medication. You may be vaccinated after taking a few precautions. 

Please also tell the clinician before vaccination if you have had an allergic reaction or have allergies after a vaccination in the past. The clinician will clarify with you whether there are any reasons not to administer the vaccination. 

It is advisable to avoid extraordinary physical stress and competitive sports in the first days after vaccination.

In case of pain or fever after the vaccination, pain-relieving and/or fever-reducing medication can be taken. Your family doctor can advise you on this.

If symptoms occur after vaccination that exceed the above-mentioned rapidly transient local and general reactions, your family doctor is of course available for consultation. In case of severe impairments, chest pain, shortness of breath, or palpitations, please seek medical treatment immediately.

Are we covered by insurance for vaccine injury?

Uniklinik RWTH Aachen only uses vaccines that have been approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and recommended by the Standing Committee on Vaccination (STIKO) at the Robert Koch Institute (RKI). Under these conditions, the public authorities guarantee they will cover the costs of any vaccination injury.

Is data available on long-term side effects?

Experience with many vaccines over many years has shown that most side effects occur a short time, usually within a few days to a few weeks after vaccination. Vaccines continue to be actively monitored by the Paul-Ehrlich-Institut even after they have been approved, so that more and more knowledge is being gained here about long-term safety, especially very rare side effects, in different population groups.

Side effects that occur unexpectedly and only a long time (for example, several years) after vaccination have not yet been observed with any vaccine and are not to be expected with the COVID-19 vaccines. In the past, very rare side effects have occurred in vaccinated individuals shortly after vaccination that were not recognized by researchers until later. The reason for this is that a very large number of people have to be vaccinated in order to detect very rare side effects and usually, it takes some time for such numbers to be vaccinated. The COVID-19 vaccines were administered to many people all around the world in a very short time. Therefore, very rare side effects can be detected and assessed faster than usual.

For example, so far the following side effects have been reported as occurring a short time after COVID-19 vaccination: After approval of the vaccine Vaxzevria (AstraZeneca) and COVID-19 Vaccine Janssen (Janssen-Cilag International), specific forms of thrombosis occurred in vaccinated individuals. To date, these adverse events have been observed predominantly in women aged under 55, but men and older individuals have also been affected. Very rare events have also been observed with the mRNA vaccines after approval in the form of pericarditis and myocarditis. These myocarditides are usually mild and heal without consequences. However, it is not yet known whether myocarditis in individual cases can also have effects later on, such as myocardial insufficiency.

The Paul-Ehrlich-Institut points out that there is no need to worry about so-called long-term side effects occurring years after vaccination. It regularly evaluates suspected cases of adverse reactions to COVID-19 vaccines in its safety reports and reports on them in its dedicated coronavirus dossier.

Suspected cases of adverse reactions can also be reported.

What should I do if I suspect I am suffering from side effects?

If symptoms occur after a vaccination which exceed the above-mentioned temporary local and general reactions, you can of course consult with your family doctor. If you experience severe adverse effects, chest pain, shortness of breath, or palpitations, please seek medical attention immediately.

If you experience severe adverse effects, especially if you develop a persistent headache, shortness of breath, or pinpoint bleeding of the skin 4 to14 days after the AstraZeneca® vaccine was administered, you should seek medical attention immediately.

 

Who monitors vaccination reactions and how can side effects be reported?

Even with widespread use, the efficacy, safety, and also the length of protection of COVID vaccines will be continuously reviewed and evaluated by the pharmaceutical companies themselves as well as by the Paul-Ehrlich-Institute and the responsible committees at the European Medicines Agency (EMA). In case there are indications of possible side effects, they can react very quickly. If you or your attending physician suspect you are experiencing side effects, you can report it to the Paul-Ehrlich-Institute (PEI) as the highest federal authority, your local health department, or in the PEI's SafeVac app.

 

Questions About Coronavirus Tests

What options are there for students and employees to get tested?

Städteregion Aachen provides up-to-date information on all testing opportunities in Aachen and the region on its website. This website also includes information for people who live in neighboring countries and work at RWTH.

Depending on the course or event, students may be offered a supervised self-test before the start of the course or event. The university institution responsible for the event makes the decision whether to provide this option.

Employees who work on site are to be offered a self-test by the university institution at least twice a week.

Which test certificates are recognized?

In principle, negative results of a rapid antigen test performed in the previous 24 hours or a PCR test certified by a recognized laboratory performed in the previous 24 hours can be recognized. Proof of testing by means of a coronavirus rapid test or coronavirus self-test may only be issued by individuals, test providers or centers, or laboratories explicitly approved for this purpose. Test certificates can also be issued for coronavirus self-tests performed under the supervision of an individual who has been instructed or authorized to perform a coronavirus rapid test ("accompanied self-test") under special conditions. Currently, this only applies to coronavirus self-tests for employees (see below: "Can a certificate be issued for the self-test conducted in my university institution?"). Supervised self-tests for students are still possible, but no certificate can be issued for these at the university institutions.

The NRW Ministry of Health has explicitly clarified that digitally monitored self-tests do not count as proof of 3G compliance.

Are additional coronavirus self-tests available to staff?

Yes, university institutions may purchase coronavirus self-tests from the RWTH Purchasing Portal.

Who are the coronavirus self-tests in the RWTH Purchasing Portal for?

The Rectorate and the Crisis Management Team have decided that all employees working in areas exposing them to an increased risk of infection are to be offered at least two coronavirus self-tests by the respective university institution each week. This particularly pertains to staff who cannot observe the applicable minimum distance at all times, such as working in workshops or labs, supervising lab courses, etc.

How long will the free self-tests still be available at the RWTH Purchasing Portal?

The free self-tests will be available in the RWTH Purchasing Portal for at least as long as required in the Coronavirus Occupational Health and Safety Ordinance. The University’s institutions are requested to limit their orders to the necessary quantity for a maximum of three weeks (applies to both provision for employees and students, e.g. for lab/practicals).

What do I have to do as a cross-border commuter from a high-incidence region?

Employees who commute to work at RWTH from a high incidence area must provide proof of testing twice a week.
You can meet this testing requirement by presenting

  • a valid negative test from a test center, a so-called citizens’ test (no older than 24 hours)
  • a valid negative PCR test (no older than 72 hours)
  • proof that you are fully vaccinated or proof of recovery from infection
  • a documented, supervised self-test that is taken prior to or at the beginning of a workday in compliance with employee testing under Section 4 of the Coronavirus Test and Quarantine Ordinance (instructions and briefing).

For more information, click here.

How do the self-tests that are available through the RWTH Purchasing Portal work?

Please note that several different test products are available for purchase through the RWTH Purchasing Portal. Please check which product you have bought and refer to the respective instructions for use below. (Of course, you will also find printed instructions enclosed in the packages you have purchased)

Product: CLINITEST Rapid COVID-19 Antigen Self-Test

Instructions for use (de)
Quick reference guide (de)
Video instructions (de)

Product: HOTGEN (2019-nCoV)-Antigen Test

Instructions for use (de)
Video instructions (de)

What do I need to do if a coronavirus self-test delivers a positive result?

In this case, you must have a PCR test carried out as a control test immediately – or on the next working day at the latest – either at a test center or your family doctor’s office. Individuals must inform the testing agency of the positive self-test result in advance. From receiving the positive result of the self-test to taking the PCR test, individuals must avoid all non-essential close contact with others. If the self-test is carried out at the workplace, the employee must leave the workplace immediately. After the PCR test, the individual must go into quarantine until the test result is available. The individual affected should also clarify whether other household members are also subject to the quarantine order. If individuals test positive for SARS-CoV-2 with a PCR test, the current quarantine rules apply. If the result is negative, the quarantine period can be terminated.

Must / Should university institutions document to whom they have issued self-tests and what the results were?

No. These coronavirus self-tests are offered to employees on a purely voluntary basis. The university does not expect institutions to keep records on the tests they have issued to staff or the results.

Can a certificate be issued for the self-test conducted in my university institution?

RWTH employees can certify other employees’ negative self-test results. The prerequisite for this is that the certifying person has previously accepted and signed the induction training given to them via the instruction sheet (de). The signed instruction sheet must be kept at the respective university institution and presented if required.

I have symptoms of Covid-19 diease. Which test is useful/sufficient?

In symptomatic individuals, only a PCR test can provide a reliable result on whether someone is infected with Covid-19. This test can be carried out at the family doctor's or at the community testing center (GAZ) at Tivoli stadium. (To make an appointment at the GAZ, click here).

Please note: Any individuals experiencing symptoms that could be due to an infection with Covid-19 are not allowed in the buildings of RWTH until a doctor or official test proves these symptoms to be unrelated to the coronavirus.

 

FAQs about the workplace

For my tax return, I need a certificate that I have been working from home. Who issues the certificate at RWTH?

A fact sheet and a form for issuing the certificate are available in the Forms Center. The certificate can be issued and completed by the management of the university institution, your head of division, or the representative in office.

The form and fact sheet are available here.

Under what conditions is exceptional working from home permitted?

Current regulations on working from home can be found here.

If working from home is not possible, the workplace has to meet specific requirements. See the special protective measures and recommendations for in-person work.

How can I use the central IT services when working from home?

The IT Center has summarized all the relevant instructions and further information.

How does the workplace have to be set up?

The management of the respective university institution must create the conditions required to comply with the existing distance and hygiene regulations. Due to the existing legal requirements, this action must be documented by carrying out the general risk assessment for the workplace.

If two individuals would like to work in the same room at the same time, this is permitted in compliance with the special conditions outlined here.

Both managers and employees in the respective university institutions are responsible for complying with the distance and hygiene regulations.

Staff should be spread out among the offices as far as possible. All available rooms should be used in order to avoid several employees working in just one office, while other offices go unoccupied. When it comes to shared offices, we recommend employees alternate between working from home and at the office (work duties permitting) in order to keep the number of individuals present in one place at the same time as low as possible. If this is not possible, the distance and hygiene regulations must be observed and special protective measures must be taken (partitions, face masks in case of temporary inability to comply with the minimum distance, room size, etc.)

In laboratories, workshops, etc., appropriate measures must be taken to ensure that employees can work in a low-risk environment, as specified above. If necessary, you can contact the Occupational Safety and Radiation Protection Staff Unit for further advice on this matter.

Employees in at-risk group for SARS-CoV-2 or who have additional childcare duties due to the restricted opening of schools or daycare centers, should primarily work from home, provided this is compatible with their work duties.
The human resources departments at RWTH will be happy to provide you with further information if necessary.

When working from home, please also refer to the available guidelines. In addition, we would like to encourage you to take a look at the offers of the Family Services Center.

Regarding the at-risk groups mentioned above, RWTH assumes the definition of the Robert Koch Institute. According to the University Medical Center’s assessment, employees with the following pre-existing conditions in particular are in at-risk groups for the coronavirus.

  • Cardiovascular diseases requiring treatment (e.g. coronary heart disease, high blood pressure)
  • Lung diseases (e.g. COPD, bronchial asthma)
  • Chronic liver diseases
  • Kidney diseases
  • Oncological diseases
  • Diabetes
  • Weakened immune system(e.g. due to a disease resulting in an immune deficiency, or regular medication intake that can weaken the immune response, such as cortisone).

For pregnant women, the specific risk assessment for SARS-CoV-2 is carried out as part of the general risk assessment when the pregnancy is announced.

To announce they are at risk, employees simply have to declare this fact to their superior in text form (an email is sufficient) if their superior is already aware of their health condition. Otherwise, employees must submit a medical certificate confirming they would face serious health complications if they got infected with coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 due to their particular condition. For data protection reasons, the pre-existing condition should not be specified.

If necessary, employees and university institutions can discuss any queries on this matter with the University Medical Center.

If employees of an at-risk group are working at the office, suitable protective measures must be agreed upon with the Occupational Safety and Radiation Protection Staff Unit and the University Medical Center if necessary, so that their risk of infection is low.

Are there any restrictions for cross-border commuters?

If, freedom of movement is restricted in neighboring countries, commuters can request a so-called commuter certificate via their designated HR administrator, who will then send it as a scan by email.

Are there any policies and regulations for holding events?

You can find all the regulations currently in effect for holding events in the latest Adapted Regulations for Implementing the Coronavirus Protection Ordinance at RWTH and on this webpage.

Is it possible to hold corporate events and gatherings (such as Christmas parties)? If so, what needs to be considered?

The legal regulations currently in force allow companies and institutions to host events such as Christmas parties. However, in light of the current infection rates, we strongly recommend holding virtual gatherings instead or postponing the event altogether. For anyone still planning to go forward with an event, the regulations of the Coronavirus Protection Ordinance must be complied with. The 3G rule will apply, which means that only individuals who can prove that they have either tested negative for infection with Covid-19, recovered from a coronavirus infection, or been vaccinated against it will have access to the event. It is mandatory to check 3G compliance at the entrance to the venue and to have fixed seating arrangements in place.

For events outside the premises of the university, event stricter regulations may apply.

What continuing education offerings are currently available?

Due to the coronavirus crisis, many continuing education events at RWTH cannot be held as in-person events. However, in order to enable all employees to benefit from educational offerings, many events are now available in digital formats. To make it easier for you to see which events are offered online, the events database can now be filtered according to the formats "Online," "In-person," and "Blended (Online & in-person)". If you have any questions about specific course offerings, please get in touch with the organizers of the course.

Are there any restrictions to the service offerings provided by RWTH's central administration?

Due to limited staff availability, the Waste Management Service Center (SCA) in Mathieustraße has to offer a reduced service. Only the following measures can guarantee waste disposal for time-critical issues at RWTH at present:

The SCA is staffed during the following times:

  • Monday and Friday, 8am to 12 noon
  • Tuesday through Thursday, 8am to 2pm

During this time, waste can only be accepted if the disposal has been arranged by telephone beforehand. During normal office hours, SCA staff can be reached by telephone and email. Individuals may only enter the building if they are wearing a mouth and nose covering. The minimum distance must be maintained at the depot. If the minimum distance cannot be maintained, a mouth and nose covering must be worn here as well.

Does the current situation have an impact on University sports?

You can find more information here.

What can I do if I am affected by the limited hours offered by childcare facilities, pre-schools, and schools?

If our employees have difficulties coming to work as normal because childcare facilities, schools, and other institutions are only open limited hours, please get in touch with your superiors to find a solution.

RWTH is determined to contribute to ensuring that all employees who are faced with the challenge of meeting care responsibilities during regular working hours due to the limited services of the above-mentioned facilities are enabled to meet this challenge. However, in this certainly exceptional situation, it is not only RWTH that is responsible for finding a solution, but also our employees, their partners, and possibly also their partners’ employers. Sensible, fair solutions can be found quickly if all parties involved contribute their share. The HR Department is not able to propose a generally applicable solution, since a fair solution must always be based on the situation of the individual employee and their respective university institution. For this reason, a specific solution can only be found between the respective superior in the university institution and the employee.

Parents are offered different options for financial relief such as paid child sick leave or wage replacement in accordance with § 56 of the Infection Protection Act (IFSG). The state government of North Rhine-Westphalia has also created a further relief option for self-employed and privately insured parents in the form of a childcare allowance.

In addition, RWTH is also offering parents the opportunity to take three coronavirus special leave days in 2021 ( – this does not include civil servants, however). Employees may be granted these special leave days if they do not have any leave days left from 2020 nor have overtime they can compensate. These special leave days will be granted with the employee’s salary paid as usual. Special leave may be requested by parents of children under the age of 12, or, in the case of children with disabilities, also over 12. In order to take special leave, the employee must have used up their entitlement to child sick leave.

Employees and students of RWTH who are looking for a carer for their children in the private sector can continue to use the babysitting network. The requirements of the Corona-Schutzverordnung (Coronavirus Protection Ordinance) of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia must be observed.

If you have any questions or need advice, the Family Services Center of the Equal Opportunities Office () and your contact person in the responsible HR department will be happy to help.

The most current information can also be found on our RWTH Corona-News Blog.

 

When can I claim child sick leave pay due to closure or prohibited access to schools or daycare centers?

Parents who have statutory health insurance will now be able to apply for 30 instead of 20 days of child sick leave pay (Kinderkrankengeld) per statutorily insured child and parent in 2021 and for a maximum total of 65 days if the parent has more than one child. The entitlement for single parents increases by 40 days to 60 days per child, with up to a maximum of 130 days if the parent has more than one child. This new regulation applies retroactively from January 5 and applies to children under 12 (exception: children with disabilities).

The entitlement also applies if a child must be cared for at home because schools or daycare centers are closed, compulsory attendance at school has been lifted, or access to daycare services has been restricted. In this case, parents must submit a corresponding certificate from the school or daycare center to their statutory health insurance provider.

Parents can also apply for child sick leave if they could work from home.

You can apply for child sick leave with your statutory health insurance by filling out this form. Unpaid leave from RWTH is granted after you submit your „Freistellung zur Betreuung eines kranken Kindes“

application found in the forms database.

Please refer to the German governments website for more information in German.

Sie können sich auch unmittelbar an Ihre gesetzliche Krankenkasse wenden.

Which rules apply for civil servants in case of only partially reopened schools or daycare centers ?

According to the “Freistellungs- und Urlaubsverordnung NRW” (NRW Sick Leave Ordinance), all civil servants (without taking into account the annual salary limit) can be granted leave for the calendar year 2021 to care for a sick child (Section 33 (1) no. 6 FrUrlV NRW). In the event of pandemic-related restrictions on access to childcare services, civil servants can also receive leave for up to a maximum of 30 working days for each child and up to a maximum of 60 working days for single-parents. The maximum entitlement is not more than 65 days, for single-parent civil servants not more than 130 working days.
 
Prerequisites are that no other person living in the household is available to care for the child and that there are no official reasons for not doing so.
 
Civil servants must submit proof of the pandemic-related restriction on access to childcare to the Human Resources Department with their application for a leave of absence. Special leave under § 33 para. 1 no. 8 FrUrlV NRW (up to three working days in other urgent cases) counts towards the aforementioned maximum limits.

Childcare days are granted regardless of whether staff can work from home.
 
If you have any questions, please contact the Human Resources Department.

Can I obtain compensation for lost income under Section 56 of the Infection Protection Act due to only partially reopened daycare centers and schools or a ban for my child to attend?

If you cannot go to work because daycare centers and schools are only open on a restricted basis and you suffer a loss of earnings because you have to care for your child, you can receive compensation. This also applies if you have to care for your child because of an order to self-isolate or quarantine. The compensation is intended to protect you against excessive loss of income.

Parents or guardians who have to stay at home due to restricted opening of schools and daycare centers or due to a child’s quarantine requirement and lose income as a result are entitled to compensation.

The conditions at a glance:

  • The child or children are under twelve years of age or in need of care due to a disability.
  • Any flextime or overtime, as well as any remaining vacation days from the previous year must have been exhausted.
  • There is no entitlement to emergency care
  • There is no reasonable alternative care option
  • Working from home is not possible or reasonable
  • The wage replacement amounts to 67 percent of the net income, but a maximum of 2,016 euros per month.
  • The payment is available for a maximum period of 20 weeks from the date of the first application.
  • There is no earnings replacement for vacation periods during which schools and daycare centers would have been closed anyway. They are therefore not counted towards the 20-week period.
  • This option also applies in principle to privately insured employees; it does not apply to civil servants.

For the period of the aforementioned childcare, you will be released from the obligation to perform work. Instead, you will be paid the wage replacement benefit via the LBV. The LBV will also pay the social security contributions on an assessment basis of 80 percent of the salary.

Please submit your application to your HR department using this form.

In principle, employees are entitled to compensation under Section 56 (1a) IfSG if their child has been banned from a childcare facility or school or if compulsory attendance at a school has been suspended. An official recommendation to care for children at home is not sufficient in this case.

While employees receive child sick leave pay, the entitlement to wage replacement under the Infection Protection Act is suspended for both parents.

For more information on wage replacement under Section 56, please refer to the German webpage on Entschädigungen bei Quarantäne, Tätigkeitsverbot oder Schließung von Schulen und Betreuungseinrichtungen (compensation for quarantine, ban on activities or closure of schools and childcare facilities).

What is the entitlement to child sick leave (also applies to (partial) closure of schools and daycare centers)?

The number of days that parents with statutory health insurance are entitled to child sick leave will be doubled for 2021. In addition, the entitlement applies not only when the child is ill, but also when daycare centers and schools are closed due to the pandemic or care is limited. The regulation applies retroactively from January 5.

You can find more information here.

You can also contact your statutory health insurance provider directly.

How long will the free self-tests still be available at the RWTH Purchasing Portal?

The free self-tests will be available in the RWTH Purchasing Portal for at least as long as required in the Coronavirus Occupational Health and Safety Ordinance. The University’s institutions are requested to limit their orders to the necessary quantity for a maximum of three weeks (applies to both provision for employees and students, e.g. for lab/practicals).

 

FAQS about teaching and learning

What do students enrolling at RWTH for the first time have to do?

Students have to enroll online. They will be informed by email about the necessary steps. For further information, or if you do not receive said email within 10 working days of receiving your notification of admission, please contact Division 2.1 – International Office at +49 241 80 90670 or by .

Are any of the study spaces open and available?

  • Central study spaces (including at the University Library): The Central University Administration and the University Library reopened their central study spaces to students at the beginning of June. To use these study spaces, students must continue to book their spots via the familiar platform to minimize queuing in front of the rooms. The regulations regarding masks and compulsory testing must be observed.
  • Check here to find out exactly which study spaces are available on any given day.
  • Study stations in the corridors of certain university buildings can now also be used again. These do not have to be booked in advance. Study stations are available in the following university buildings at present:

    - Audimax
    - C.A.R.L.
    - PPS
  • Decentralized study spaces (especially in department libraries): Decentralized study spaces may be opened, provided that the study space has been approved by the Occupational Safety and Radiation Protection Staff Unit within the scope of the available capacities, suitable supervision is ensured within opening hours, and a responsible person has been designated in the organizational unit. The regulations concerning the obligation to wear masks and to take tests must be observed.
  • 3G applies in all RWTH buildings. When prompted, you must present corresponding proof of compliance with the 3G regulation.

Are there any policies and regulations for holding courses?

You can find all the regulations currently in effect for holding events in the latest Adapted Regulations for Implementing the Coronavirus Protection Ordinance at RWTH and on this webpage.

 

What support do lecturers have in order to adjust to the situation?

The Center for Teaching and Learning Services, CLS for short, offers central video recordings and other forms of support, so that teaching can continue wherever possible despite the restrictions related to the coronavirus. The CLS website offers detailed information on distance and online teaching.

Does the current situation have an impact on University sports?

You can find more information here.

I am an international student and have questions about the organization of my studies or stay abroad.

You can find all the video presentations, FAQs, and further information on Welcome Week here. For all other questions, please contact the Info Service Center of the International Office.

 

What networking opportunities are available to international students?

If you are looking for ideas for digital leisure activities, follow the International Office on Facebook and Instagram, where they regularly post tips and new online offers. The Facebook group RWTH Welcomes Internationals is another great networking opportunity.

 

Where can international students who need support due to the current situation get information on individual topics?

If you have any questions regarding your studies or your stay here, please contact the Info Service Center of the International Office. The advisory team will be happy to assist you in clarifying your questions.

 

Due to the limited opening of KiTas and schools, it is difficult to participate in online events. What can I do?

For hourly childcare or to cover childcare problems during closing times, students can claim a financial subsidy toward their childcare costs. The subsidy is capped at 300 euros per semester and per student parent. The Family Services Center can reimburse a maximum of 9 euros per hour of childcare. In order to apply for the subsidy, students must present their Family Card and submit a one-off personal application to the Family Services Center. Further information on the childcare allowance can be found here.

RWTH students who are looking for a caregiver for their children in the private sector can continue to use the babysitting network. The requirements of the Coronavirus Protection Ordinance (Corona-Schutzverordnung) of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia must be observed.

Please feel free to contact the Family Services Center of the Equal Opportunities Office () as well as the Social Counseling Service of ASTA if you have any questions or need advice.

What funding options are available for student parents?

Bridging aid: scholarships for students in need

German and international students who are enrolled at state and state-recognized universities in Germany can apply for the bridging aid.

Those who already receive a loan, scholarship, or similar in the concerned months can still receive bridging aid. Depending on proven need, an amount between 100 euros and 500 euros can be issued as a non-repayable grant.

Further information can be found at Studierendenwerk Aachen.

Bridging grants from the University and proRWTH:

The #RWTHhilft initiative supports students in need due to the coronavirus pandemic, so they can continue their studies or complete their degree program.
For more information, please contact AStA.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact the Social Counseling Service of ASTA as well as the Family Services Center of the Equal Opportunities Office ().


BAföG

The standard period of study has been extended by one semester for all students. Therefore, students should receive BAföG for an additional semester. However, this only applies to those whose funding entitlement only expires after the current semester.

More information is available at Studierendenwerk Aachen.


Supplemental child allowance

Supplemental child allowance can only be considered for students whose education is eligible for support according to BAföG in special circumstances. The supplemental allowance offers financial support to low-income families. In order to be eligible, the following requirements must be met:

  • You receive child benefit (or a comparable benefit) for the child
  • Your gross income is at least 900 euros (parent couples) or 600 euros (single parents)
  • Your gross income does not exceed the maximum income limit (ALG II rate)
  • Together with the child supplement, your income exceeds the entitlement amount for unemployment benefit II or social benefits

The supplemental child allowance must also be applied for at the Family Office of the Employment Agency. It amounts to a maximum of 205 euros per month per child and is usually granted for six months. You can find more information about the allowance here.

Please feel free to contact the Family Services Center of the Equal Opportunities Office () as well as the Social Counseling Service of ASTA if you have any questions or need advice.

Further information on the topic of student financing during the coronavirus crisis can be found here.

 

FAQS about research

Are there any policies and regulations for holding events?

You can find all the regulations currently in effect for holding events in the latest Adapted Regulations for Implementing the Coronavirus Protection Ordinance at RWTH and on this webpage.

What does this situation mean for my third-party funded research project?

RWTH will communicate any information and news regarding the current restrictions in the university’s official business and the associated possible delays in the implementation of projects funded by third parties to the project managers as soon as possible. For time-sensitive questions, project managers are also welcome to contact the Management of Third Party Funds team via .

What are the consequences for academic staff in qualification positions?

If the current restrictions in RWTH Aachen University's service operations could have an impact on academic qualifications, the supervisors should be contacted promptly so that necessary measures can be agreed upon at short notice. RWTH will make every effort to ensure that there are no avoidable delays.

Who can international researchers and doctoral candidates contact if they have questions about the organization of their research stay or doctoral studies?

The International Office's Welcome Center is available for all general questions concerning the organization of the stay of international researchers or doctoral candidates.

 

Are there virtual networking opportunities for international researchers, doctoral candidates, or their partners?

The Welcome Center of the International Office provides up-to-date information on online services for international researchers. The closed Facebook group Welcome Center RWTH offers a good networking opportunity for international researchers. The closed Facebook group Aachen International Spouses is aimed at the partners of international researchers who have joined them in Aachen.

 

 

 

FAQs on travel

Which regions are currently considered risk areas?

Risk areas are being identified by the RKI on a continual basis. For an up-to-date overview, please visit: RKI – Risk Areas (de). The website also provides English-language information, including a PDF document on current risk areas in English..

What do I need to consider when traveling or returning from travel?

Up-to-date information for travellers returning from abroad are available here.

What do I have to consider as a cross-border commuter who enters Germany from another country?

Employees who commute to work at RWTH from a high risk area or virus variant area must provide proof of a negative test result twice a week. For those who are fully vaccinated or have recovered from infection with Covid-19, the testing obligation does not apply.

Cross-border commuters from other countries are not obligated to provide proof of a negative test.

You can meet the testing obligation mentioned above by presenting

  • a valid negative test result from a test center (no older than 24 hours)
  • a valid negative PCR test (no older than 72 hours)
  • proof that you are fully vaccinated or proof of recovery from infection
  • a documented, supervised self-test that is taken prior to or at the beginning of a workday in compliance with employee testing under Section 4 of the Coronavirus Test and Quarantine Ordinance (instructions and briefing).

For more information, click here.