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German lawmakers seek elusive compromise on vaccine mandate

German lawmakers who proposed a requirement for all adults to be vaccinated against COVID-19 sought a compromise on Monday after struggling to win a majority in parliament, suggesting a less sweeping mandate that would initially oblige everyone aged 50 and above to get shots.

Olaf Scholz said shortly before becoming chancellor in December that he favored a vaccine mandate for all adults. But amid deep divisions on the issue within his governing coalition, he left it to lawmakers to come up with legislation rather than having the government draw up rules.

Ahead of votes expected in parliament Thursday, there appeared to be no clear majority for any of a variety of proposals — ranging from the proposed mandate for all adults to bills explicitly opposing any mandate at all.

FILE - Lawmakers attend a debate about a vaccination mandate at the parliament Bundestag in Berlin, Germany, Jan. 26, 2022. German lawmakers who proposed a requirement for all adults to be vaccinated against COVID-19 sought a compromise after struggling to win a majority in parliament, suggesting a less sweeping mandate that would initially oblige everyone aged 50 and above to get shots. (AP PhotoMarkus Schreiber, File)

The 237 lawmakers who backed a mandate for all adults are now proposing a plan under which people aged 50 and above would be required to prove that they have been vaccinated starting Oct. 1, news agency dpa reported.

Other adults who aren't vaccinated would be required to show that they have at least received counseling on the issue. Parliament could decided after its summer break, taking into account the progress of the pandemic and of vaccination, whether there should also be a vaccination mandate for under-50s.

Some 76% of Germany's population of 83 million has received a full first course of vaccination and 58.8% also have received a booster shot. Officials aren't satisfied with the number of older people in particular who have been vaccinated.

File Photo shows a 85-year-old man receiving a booster vaccination in the so called "vaccination express" tram in central Frankfurt, Nov. 4, 2021. German lawmakers who proposed a requirement for all adults to be vaccinated against COVID-19 sought a compromise after struggling to win a majority in parliament, suggesting a less sweeping mandate that would initially oblige everyone aged 50 and above to get shots. (AP PhotoMichael Probst, File)

Infection levels are drifting downward from very high levels, and most coronavirus restrictions have recently been relaxed.

The only European country that has passed a vaccination mandate for most adults into law is neighboring Austria. But the government in Vienna last month suspended the mandate shortly before its enforcement was due to begin, arguing that there's no need to implement it at present.