VW offers COVID-19 vaccines to relatives of German employees

Monica Raymunt

Volkswagen AG is rolling out COVID-19 inoculations to relatives of its German employees, a sign of heightened alert as companies join government efforts to head off the fast-spreading omicron variant.

Vaccinations for workers’ family members are starting Tuesday, according to a spokeswoman. Since June, the German auto giant has administered about 100,000 doses — including first, second and booster shots — at sites in its home country.

The move is part of a broader effort to avoid disruptions to the economy. In Germany, people in close contact to someone with COVID have to isolate for as long as 10 days. Those requirements can be waived for those who have had booster shots, which could help maintain assembly lines. 

Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s administration last week imposed tighter curbs on social contact to counter rising contagion rates without resorting to a stringent lockdown. The government also aims to administer 30 million vaccine doses in January to counter the risks posed by omicron.

While German parliament is working on legislation to vaccines compulsory, VW has no plans to make shots mandatory or to limit on-site access only to those who are vaccinated or have recovered from the virus, the spokeswoman said. 

In Germany, corporate medical staff have been authorized to administer COVID vaccines for months. Auto-parts supplier Robert Bosch GmbH is also taking part and has given out more than 70,000 vaccinations in Germany since June. 

In the early stages of its vaccine drive, VW offered shots to family members but then suspended the program.  

Alongside vaccinations, Europe’s biggest carmaker has distributed almost 5 million rapid tests to workers in Germany since April, and voluntary PCR tests have been available to its workforce since July 2020. The manufacturer employs nearly 300,000 people in Germany, close to half its global workforce.