Germany has an Astrazeneca problem. The country has so far received 1.5 million doses of the British vaccine, but only 15% have been pricked. Hundreds of thousands of doses remain. People dont sign up for an appointment or say out at the last minute. With millions of extra doses approaching, the surplus promises to increase. In the meantime, politics are looking for solutions to improve the reputation of the vaccine and eliminate the puncture gap.
In the vaccination centre of the Brandenburg town of Kyritz, they know the problem. When they started vaccinating with AstraZeneca a few weeks ago, the puncture booths remained practically empty. “We can vaccinate 280 people a day here,” says regional curator Ralf Reinhardt. “In the first days at most 50 people reported for a shot and half of them did not show up.”
Second rate vaccine
Reinhardt sees several reasons why AstraZeneca does not run a storm so far. “Posts of its reduced efficacy are not interpreted properly by many people. Like it doesnt work. In the media, AstraZeneca has been wrongly called a second-rate vaccine. That has made people reluctant.”
Stories of violent side effects also frighten people. You can also hear that from the people sitting in the hall waiting for their prick. “I was skeptical because of all these negative messages myself,” says fireman Thomas Grandt. “But when I saw people in my area that they had a headache at most after an Astrazeneca shot, I just signed up.”
Too few people in vaccination group
But according to Reinhardt, most of the problem is caused by simply too few people in the first vaccination group who are eligible for AstraZeneca. As in the Netherlands, the vaccine is given only to people under the age of 65, which means that all those over the age of 80 fall off, leaving only medical and nursing personnel in group 1. “Just there you saw some skepticism,” says Reinhardt.
In order not to stay with vaccines, Reinhardt decided to open the vaccination order on his own three weeks ago. Invitations also went to people in groups 2 and 3: GGD employees, agents, firefighters and people from nurseries. Against the instructions of the state and the national vaccination committee. It came to him quite a bit of criticism, but “it worked”, he says. “Now the agenda is almost full again.”
Thats how things are now going in the vaccination center:
More and more municipalities follow the example of Kyritz and less strictly adhere to the vaccination order. Even the Bavarian Prime Minister, Markus Söder, recently spoke in favour of the release of priority groups and even advocated the release of the vaccine for all over the age of 18: “With an überbureaucratic system, we are not going to get any further. That is why no later than April, when the really large stocks of vaccines are delivered, every dose, wherever possible, should be eliminated as soon as possible.”
In Berlin, they do not intend to let go of the whole sequence system, but they do think about widening the groups and greater flexibility. And that is exactly what Reinhardt says is needed. “We always want to do everything correctly and honestly in Germany. Thats wringing now that theres little time. Tempo is a determining factor in saving human lives.”
In the bulletin booths of Kyritz, they are also happy with it. Teacher Jozephine Löwe was not in fact up yet, but is very pleased that she has already received her vaccination today: “Everyone must have the chance to help end this pandemic at last”.