More than half the population of Germany is now fully vaccinated, Health Minister Jens Spahn said, but concerns are growing about a slowdown in uptake.

41.8 million Germans now have full protection, while 61.1 percent have received at least one shot. In a tweet, Spahn said, the more people who get vaccinated, the safer they will be in autumn and winter.

Germany’s vaccination campaign accelerated in the spring after a sluggish first few months, yet the country remains some way off the 80 percent targeted for herd immunity.

With case numbers also rising, the debate over how to convince more people to take the vaccine is set to become a key issue in the national elections scheduled for 26 September. Unlike other European countries such as France and Greece, Germany has so far ruled out introducing compulsory jabs for certain parts of the population.

Last week, Chancellor Angela Merkel urged citizens to get vaccinated to curb what she called a clear and worrying dynamic in the infection rates.

On Wednesday, official figures showed 2768 new coronavirus cases over the last 24 hours, while the incidence had risen again to reach 15 cases per 100,000 over a seven-day period.

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