(Releads with fourth shot, adds vaccine mandate)
BERLIN, Dec 22 (Reuters) - German Health Minister Karl Lauterbach said on Wednesday that a fourth vaccination will be necessary in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic due to the more contagious Omicron variant.
He said that Germany has ordered 80 million doses of a vaccine made by Biontech specifically targeting Omicron and should arrive in April or May.
Germany has also ordered four million doses of the newly approved vaccine Novavax - seen as more acceptable to vaccine sceptics - and 11 million doses of the new Valneva shot, which is waiting for marketing authorisation, Lauterbach said.
The Novavax shots will arrive in the country in January, Lauterbach told a news conference.
"An offensive booster campaign is our most important building block in the fight against Omicron," the health minister said.
Lauterbach threw his support behind a general vaccine mandate, saying that without one, it would not be possible to manage coming waves of infection over the long term.
According to Lothar Wieler, president of Germany's Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases, Omicron will be responsible for most coronavirus infections in Germany within three weeks.
"Christmas should not become the spark that starts the Omicron blaze," RKI chief Lothar Wieler told the same news conference, adding people should limit contacts to an absolute minimum. (Reporting by Zuzanna Szymanska and Miranda Murray Editing by Madeline Chambers and Emma Thomasson)
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