Henning Lachmann works as a nurse at the Itzehoe Clinic – but probably not for much longer. If he is not vaccinated, he is threatened with dismissal. The health department has already threatened the 29-year-old with a hefty fine and a house ban. Lachmann is desperate. On FOCUS Online he tells how he is currently doing in the station and why he would like to get infected with Covid-19.
The blow hit him hard. For more than two months, Henning Lachmann had always gone to the mailbox with a queasy feeling. “Every day I had a racing heart.” Last week, something got stuck in the mail that the 29-year-old expected, but which he had feared like horror news: a letter from the Itzehohe health department, three closely printed pages.
Right at the beginning, the authority’s employee got down to business: “I was informed by your employer that you had not submitted proof of full vaccination against Covid-19, proof of recovery or a medical certificate of incapacity to be vaccinated against Covid-19”.
The lady from the office explained that he could still submit one of the proofs by June 20th. If he doesn’t do this, he’s committing an offence. Then he would have to pay a fine “of up to 2500 euros”. “Furthermore, it is intended to prohibit entry or professional activity in the Itzehoe Clinic”.
In the original letter from the health department, the word “prohibit” is printed in extra bold and underlined. This is intended to make it clear to the recipient that the authority is serious. Very seriously.
Fine, house ban, job gone, existence in danger – Henning Lachmann had to swallow when he read the lines. “I’m very angry,” he says in an interview with FOCUS Online. “I’m really incredibly angry and sad.” After studying the letter, he felt “worthless and stamped”. “Thrown away by our state”.
Of course he knew it would come to this. He had heard it again and again on the radio, seen it on TV, read it on online portals. And by December 10, 2021 at the latest – at that time, the Bundestag decided to make vaccination compulsory for employees in the health and care sector – Lachmann knew that sooner or later it would get him.
For him it was clear: “I will not be vaccinated!”
Lachmann is not alone with this attitude. Tens of thousands of carers, nurses, doctors, paramedics, midwives and people caring for people with disabilities all over Germany think the same way, 25,000 in Saxony alone and around 20,000 in North Rhine-Westphalia. They made a conscious decision not to be vaccinated against Covid-19. In doing so, they violate the “facility-related vaccination obligation” that has been in force since mid-March 2022 and which the Federal Constitutional Court recently declared to be legal. And they risk their job.
Henning Lachmann loves his job. For almost ten years he has been working in the Itzehohe Clinic in Schleswig-Holstein, in the “General, Vascular and Visceral Surgery” department. Every day he commutes 40 kilometers to work, takes care of patients in shifts, washes them, treats their wounds, gives them medicine and food, changes bandages and accompanies them to the toilet. Monthly salary: 2200 euros. “I’m with my heart,” he said in February to FOCUS Online.
Lachmann is not a corona denier, nor a lateral thinker. He is simply one of those people who have massive reservations about vaccination. “I don’t trust the vaccine. I’m scared of it.” He knows that hundreds of millions of people around the world have been vaccinated against the dangerous virus without being harmed. And he also knows that so far there have only been very few cases of serious side effects, such as inflammation of the heart muscle, thrombosis, allergic reactions and nerve damage.
Nevertheless, he is skeptical.
Lachmann cannot understand that he will most likely lose his job in the hospital for his attitude. He uses the word “scandal” and reports that many other people feel the same way. The state classifies unvaccinated nurses as so dangerous that it puts them on the street. “But when it came to being there for patients around the clock and stepping in when colleagues were absent, we were always good enough.” Lachmann sums it up: “My trust in the rule of law has been shaken – just like my trust in the vaccine”.
In his distress, Henning Lachmann came up with an idea that initially frightened him himself: “I keep thinking about intentionally contracting the corona virus. Actually, I would like to do that.” The reason is clear: if he has overcome the illness, he is considered recovered. With the appropriate proof, he would be safe from sanctions from the health authorities – and could continue to pursue his profession for the time being.
The nurse admits that this scenario sounds “disturbing”, both for outsiders and for himself. This is probably one of the reasons why he has not yet implemented the plan in reality. It is unlikely that Lachmann already had Corona without realizing it. In February he had himself tested for coronavirus antibodies. “The result was zero.”
Meanwhile, Henning Lachmann continues to do his work as normal, if one can even say so in these abnormal times. Until recently, he had to take a corona test before every service on the ward. “A new regulation has been in force for a few days, according to which only two tests per week are mandatory,” says Lachmann.
So far, there have been no problems with patients, explains the nurse. “Quite the opposite: they’re always happy when they see me.” Lachmann reports that he has already pointed out to some patients that he is not vaccinated against Corona. Nobody got upset or refused contact with him. “Of course, they know about the shortage of nursing staff and probably thought something like, ‘Thank God someone is here'”.
Maybe they aren’t that wrong after all. In any case, according to Lachmann, he experiences “several staff absences” every day and meets “burned-out colleagues”. He knows “that fewer and fewer people still want to sacrifice themselves for this job”. If he were thrown out of the clinic, he would be curious to see “who will then do my work,” says Lachmann. “No one from outside can even begin to imagine what the situation on the ward really is. No politician, no official, no one.”
Giving up his place voluntarily is out of the question for Henning Lachmann. “I always offer my labor to the clinic. It’s been like that forever. And that will remain so”. If the health department listens to him personally, he will not only tell the people there how much he likes his difficult job. He will also explain to you that he is indispensable on his station. “Because we can’t do without anyone.”
One thing is already certain for Lachmann: “I will certainly not pay a fine. I would rather complain about it.” He announces similar steps in the event that he is forbidden to enter the clinic. The nurse to FOCUS Online: “I’ll fight to the bitter end!”