German doctors and staff have faced threats and aggression from vaccine opponents. Patients and staff have been described as feeling frayed nerves when pandemic fatigue strikes.
German doctors are reporting more and more that they have received abuse from their clinics, threats of violence via mail from anti-vaxxers throughout the country, and that their patients are being threatened with violence.
DW reached out to a number of doctor’s organizations this week, reporting an aggressive atmosphere and frayed nerves at many German clinics.
This is as the coronavirus pandemic reaches unprecedented infection rates in Germany: Germany reported on Thursday the highest number of cases in the world with 50,377.
One of the most alarming reports was from the eastern state Saxony. Here, the 7-day incidence rate for new infections is highest (569 per 100,000 residents) and vaccine uptake is the lowest (57% of the Saxony population have been fully vaccinated). 70% of Germany’s population is currently fully vaccinated.
Erik Bodendieck (chairman of the Saxony Medical Association) said that “the aggression and extremism among people have become significantly worse.” He is also a general practitioner. “Some doctors even received death threats.”
Bodendieck stated that he is used to receiving threats because of his public position as head of the association. He told DW that these emails are where he is personally attacked and where he is threatened with legal action. “And there are letters that say things like, ‘You all belong before a firing squad. This is the kind of thing.
Bodendieck stated that he had called for mandatory vaccinations yesterday, and despite the approval of social media, I’m certain the vaccine opponents will be up again.” Bodendieck also said that he feared some doctors in Saxony might not administer COVID vaccines because of the threats.
Patients are more aggressive than staff, and nerves become frayed among staff
Ulrike Schrammh-Hader, spokeswoman for Thuringia Medical Associates, stated that 25 doctors reported receiving threats letters. She told DW that most of the letters stated that vaccinations were dangerous and accused doctors of performing human experiments.
Schramm-Hader received a similar letter, even though she does not administer vaccines. She said that sometimes the writers veer into conspiracy theories territory. There is talk about shadowy forces controlling federal government. But there are also people who reject any measures to protect against coronavirus. They do make an effort: They search for doctors’ addresses and names.
It isn’t just about anonymous hate mail. Many clinics have a strained atmosphere. In September, the Thuringia Medical Society held a conference where many doctors shared stories of angry patients visiting their clinics. “Sometimes patients react very aggressively when asked about their vaccination status. Schramm-Hader said that doctors should know this information.