Germany star Kimmich ‘expresses regret’ as he reverses Covid vaccine stance
Bayern Munich's Joshua Kimmich has relented in his opposition to the Covid-19 vaccine as he pledged to take the jab as soon as possible after experiencing lung problems following a positive test for the virus.
Kimmich was one of several high-profile holdouts within German football and had initially announced his hesitancy in taking one of the several available vaccines against Covid-19, claiming concerns about the lack of long-term studies into potential side effects of the shots – but had stressed that he didn't consider himself a so-called anti-vaxxer.
However, speaking to German outlet ZDF in an interview scheduled to be broadcast on Sunday, the 26-year-old now says he is willing to receive a vaccine, and reportedly indicated that he wishes that he had done so sooner.
"In general, it was just difficult for me to deal with my fears and concerns, that's why I was undecided for so long," the German international said.
His change of mind comes after Kimmich's positive test for the virus in November, after which he experienced debilitating symptoms, including damage to his lungs, which are expected to keep him out of football until next year.
That came after Kimmich was one of several unvaccinated Bayern players to have their wages docked after being forced into isolation after coming into contact with a confirmed positive case.
That was in line with German law, which stipulates that an employer, in this case Bayern Munich, can withhold payments to unvaccinated employees who are forced into quarantine.
The other Bayern Munich players reported to have fallen foul of these rules were Serge Gnabry, Jamal Musiala, Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting and Michael Cuisance.
It was reported recently that Choupo-Moting had also experienced severe symptoms when he contracted Covid-19.
"I'm happy my self-isolation caused by the coronavirus has ended," Kimmich told Bayern's website after his period of self-isolation came to a close.
"I'm doing very well, but I'm not yet able to train fully due to slight infiltrations in my lungs.
"I'll therefore do some rehabilitative training and can't wait to be fully back in action in January."
Germany's Federal Research Minister Bettina Stark-Watzinger has praised Kimmich for announcing his intention to receive the vaccine.
"It's a good decision," she wrote on Twitter. "As a professional footballer and national player, he is a role model for many people. More vaccinations are the way out of the pandemic."
Roughly 70% of the German population are currently vaccinated against Covid-19. Statistics indicate that Germany has recorded in excess of 6.5 million Covid-19 infections since the start of the pandemic, along with 106,00 fatalities.