Corona virus: New corona vaccine – countries hardly expect a rush

When administering the new vaccines adapted to Omikron, the federal states want to rely primarily on established doctors and vaccination centers - but they do not expect a large rush.

Corona virus: New corona vaccine – countries hardly expect a rush

When administering the new vaccines adapted to Omikron, the federal states want to rely primarily on established doctors and vaccination centers - but they do not expect a large rush.

This emerges from a survey by the German Press Agency among the countries. Vaccinations in pharmacies, on the other hand, are unlikely to play a role.

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) gave the green light on Thursday for the two vaccines from Biontech/Pfizer and Moderna, which are adapted to subtype BA.1 of the omicron variant of the coronavirus. The EU Commission approved the vaccine on Friday. Although BA.1 no longer plays a role in Germany, experts assume that the new vaccines also have an advantage against the currently dominant BA.5 subtype. However, there is still no vaccination recommendation from the Standing Vaccination Commission (Stiko).

Around 14 million doses of the BA.1 preparation from Biontech/Pfizer and Moderna are to come in the two weeks starting Monday. How the vaccine gets into the arms of the people is organized by the federal states and the municipalities. The strategies differ in detail.

North Rhine-Westphalia, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Saxony

While in North Rhine-Westphalia, for example, the 53 vaccination centers ceased operations last autumn, there are currently 80 vaccination centers in Bavaria despite the low demand for vaccination - some with limited opening hours. "We can quickly start vaccinations in Bavaria as soon as the adapted vaccine arrives in September," said Bavarian Minister of Health Klaus Holetschek (CSU).

Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania is also sticking to vaccination centers, which should initially run until April 2023. The Mecklenburg-Western Pomeranian Ministry of Health announced that the vaccination centers and mobile teams are an important offer, especially for people who do not have a family doctor or who do not have access to a doctor’s office due to restricted mobility.

In Saxony, the 13 vaccination centers are being increased. On request, the Ministry of Social Affairs in Dresden announced that the existing vaccination centers should be particularly staffed during the cool season.

In Bremen there are still four central vaccination centers, a children's vaccination center, mobile teams and vaccination vehicles, as the health department announced. A spokeswoman said that "even if demand increases in the short term, capacities can be increased".

vaccination capacities

Even if the preparations for vaccinations with the new vaccines are already underway in the countries, they do not yet want to fully increase their existing vaccination capacities. Schleswig-Holstein, for example, has calculated how many vaccinations the capacities can be expanded to: "If necessary, existing capacities (vaccination lines) and the opening times in the existing vaccination centers can be increased," said the Ministry of Health in Kiel. According to this, it would then be possible to carry out more than 1.8 million vaccinations within six weeks.

Baden-Württemberg's Health Minister Manne Lucha (Greens) assumes that the existing capacities in his state are sufficient. The country is currently not expecting a mass vaccination like in early 2021. In this case, the vaccination coordinators in every city and district can start up the infrastructure, it said.

In Thuringia, with the exception of two cities - Erfurt and Gera - capacities will not be increased for the time being. The opening times there were not reduced, according to the vaccination manager of the Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians (KV), Jörg Metz. The willingness to vaccinate is currently low. "If the demand increases again, we will react," said Mertz. The federal state has already halved the vaccination points. It is unclear how the approval of vaccines that are adapted to the Omicron variants will affect demand.

In Hamburg, Berlin, Brandenburg and Saxony-Anhalt, the corona vaccines are primarily vaccinated via medical practices. There are only two vaccination centers in Hamburg, which can be staffed if there is greater demand, the health authority said. “When we set up the two vaccination centers and the mobile offer, we prepared ourselves to scale up the capacities,” it said there with a view to autumn.

Even the most populous federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia relies primarily on vaccinations in medical practices. This enables flexible control of the local vaccination process and is based on demand, said the North Rhine-Westphalian Ministry of Social Affairs on request. According to the information, vaccination could be significantly ramped up again in the fall if necessary. The federal state has the resources to "carry out at least 250,000 vaccinations a week within 14 days - in addition to what is offered in medical practices and company doctors." According to its own statements, Hesse has also not had any state-owned vaccination centers since the end of September 2021.

A number of mobile vaccination teams are also on the road in the neighboring states of North Rhine-Westphalia, Rhineland-Palatinate and Lower Saxony. There are currently around 150 in Lower Saxony alone. In Rhineland-Palatinate, the German Red Cross can vaccinate around 35,000 people per month with its mobile teams - especially in old people's homes, as the Ministry of Health in Mainz announced. In addition, there would be 26 stationary vaccination offers and six vaccination buses with a total of around 200,000 vaccinations per month.

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