Vaccination against the coronavirus has been going on all over Europe for some time. In the Netherlands, many crucial healthcare workers have been vaccinated, and since yesterday, residents of nursing homes and disabled care can also get a vaccine. But the vaccination is not going smoothly enough for many. How far are other countries?
Neighbouring Germany is also in the first phase of the vaccination programme. “In the first group there are some 8.9 million people. These are 80 people over, elderly nurses and care workers who have a great chance of getting infected, for example ic staff,” says correspondent Wouter Zwart. “The first phase runs smoothly, even though vaccination of that group is a time-consuming process.”
Although the infrastructure and resources are ready to vaccinate more people, Germany, like other countries, suffers from the supply problems of pharmaceutical company Pfizer. “Thats why they cant inoculate as quickly as they want. Its slower than we hoped. In early February, they hope to receive new doses and quickly vaccinate the second group. Those are the people over 70, other care workers and the emergency services,” says Zwart.
PFIZER/BionTech has released a new manual for their vaccine. The doses can be stored for six hours between two and eight degrees, the normal refrigerator temperature. “And thats going to make a lot of difference in Germany. Many elderly people live here at home. Many are immobile and can not go to a vaccination point. Now that the vaccines are kept at fridge temperature for longer, GP can make it easier for longer to visit home to vaccinate them.”
“ How many people have been vaccinated in Belgium is not entirely clear,” says Brussels editor Bert van Slooten. “There are problems with counting and in each region they do it differently. Now the problem would be in Flanders.”
The first group to be called is 150,000 residents and 60,000 employees of nursing homes. “It is unclear exactly how far they are, but it seems that they are already quite far. After this group, the people aged 65 and over follow, then the people between 45 and 65 who fall into the risk group.”
Belgium hopes to be ready to vaccinate in September. “But there are two problems. First of all, sufficient vaccines must be made available. The Belgians hope that the Astrazeneca vaccine will be approved quickly. There is also another problem – a shortage of needles. They were purchased too late, because the previous Minister of Health did not know which ones were needed. At least 12 million are still needed, although Belgium has already exchanged some with Canada.”
“ In Denmark, the vaccination programme runs like an oiled machine,” says correspondent Rolien Creton. “About three percent of Danes have already been vaccinated, including all elderly people in nursing homes. They were given priority, just like the front line in health care. The next group is elderly over 85 years old and elderly people receiving home care. After that, it is the turn of disabled and mantle care.”
Denmark chooses to use all vaccines as soon as possible. “The period between the first and second vaccination is stretched to a maximum of six weeks. “, says Creton. “The Danish RIVM hopes to finish the vaccination at the end of June. And so the preparations for the famous Roskilde-Festival are in full swing, where all tickets are sold out. It is expected that a vaccination pass or rapid test will be required.”
The Danish Ministry of Health is also busy preparing a digital vaccination passport.
In France, they hope to have vaccinated 1 million people by the end of the month. “They started with the residents and staff of nursing homes, but since the beginning of this week a new group has been added: people living at home over 75 and people with chronic diseases,” says correspondent Frank Renout.
There was a lot of criticism of the roll-out of the vaccination programme, says Renout. “From scientists and politicians, who saw that things went faster in other countries. Then they set course. The timetable has now been brought to the fore. Probably, they start with the rest of the population in the spring. We dont know how fast it all goes.”
In the first phase the vaccines were put in the nursing homes, but since the end of last week more and more new puncture sites are also being added. According to Renout, France also suffers from Pfizers supply problem: “Many mayors complain that there are too few vaccines. In addition, there are long waiting times and some people can only get a shot in March. There are concerns about that.”
“ In Italy, vaccination is taking place at a fast pace and they are well on track. The logistics of the vaccines is very efficient and well in order,” says correspondent Mustafa Marghadi.“Almost 1.2 million people have already been vaccinated and the second phase can almost start. Then it will be the turn of people aged 80 and over who do not live in nursing homes.”
some places in the country it may be a little too fast, says Marghadi. “In the Campania region, so many people are vaccinated that they are constantly at the maximum number of doses. That could be a shortage for the people who are already in turn for the second shot.”
Throughout the country there are about three hundred vaccination points. “By the end of February, they want to have that increased to 1500. By the end of the summer they hope to have vaccinated so many people that there is group immunity. Not everyone has had the vaccine, but enough people to get out of trouble.”
“ The UK is the absolute leader in vaccinations,” says correspondent Tim de Wit. “It is going very energetic here. Mainly 80 people over, residents of nursing homes and care staff have already been vaccinated. Yesterday, the limit of four million vaccinations was reached. Half a million of them are second vaccinations. If this continues, the target of 15 million vaccinations will be met in mid-February.”
One of the reasons why things are going so fast in the UK is because they are already using the Astrazeneca vaccine. This has not yet been approved in Europe.
“ Basically, we are supposed to be finished here in September, then all 54 million adults will be vaccinated. According to the Times newspaper, the sneaky hope is already expressed internally in Downing Street that they can be finished by June,” says De Wit. “But this pandemic has already been promised so much that it could not be met, that the government would not dare to pronounce that objective out loud for the time being.”
According to the government, almost 80% of the more than 1 million doses of vaccines received by Spain have already been administered. The first vaccines were for residents and employees of nursing homes. “The news is that they are already starting the second round,” says correspondent Rop Zoutberg. “They think theyll be done with that soon. Then the vaccination of hospital personnel begins.”
Although there are clear puncture locations in many countries, this is not the case in Spain. “I see images from abroad, but that is not recognizable for here. Vaccination takes place inside the nursing homes, and later in hospitals and health centres,” says Zoutberg. In sparsely populated regions, where there are no health centres, special cars are set up with small boxes where people can get a shot.
The Minister for Health wants to have 70% of the Spanish population vaccinated by the end of the summer. “Quite optimistic, but they stick to it,” says Zoutberg. “From the moment they reach the 70 percent, group immunity must also emerge.” In Spain, more than 47 million people live.