Berlin (dpa) – The vaccination campaign started quite slowly in Germany. On the one hand there is reluctance, while at the same time there are complaints about insufficient vaccine. The federal government and the EU commission had to listen to a lot of criticism.
Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn (CDU) repeatedly stressed that the vaccine would be in short supply for weeks and months – especially in the beginning, as production capacity is still limited. A look across the border shows that it looks the same in other countries. An EU country even started vaccinating on Wednesday.
GREAT BRITAIN: The British have so far been one step ahead of the EU when it comes to vaccination: Biontech and Pfizer’s vaccine was approved as an emergency in early December. The first British woman was vaccinated on December 8. Since the beginning of January, another drug has been available with the domestic vaccine from Oxford University and the pharmaceutical company Astrazeneca. According to the government, more than 1.3 million people have been vaccinated against corona so far. The speed of the vaccination campaign needs to be accelerated significantly, with the target of two million vaccinations per week.
FRANCE: In the first week after the vaccination began on December 27, there were only a few hundred vaccinations in France, according to the media. Initially, official figures were sought in vain. French regional politicians accused the Paris government of failure and did not feel involved. The vaccination campaign in France was intended to vaccinate elderly people in nursing homes and older employees on site in January and February. The authorities defended the slow pace that was logistically difficult. After massive criticism, the group of people was finally expanded – for example, to people over 75 who do not live in the home, as well as other health professionals. Hundreds of vaccination centers are now also opening.
ITALY: Italy also administered the first highly anticipated vaccine doses from Pfizer-Biontech on December 27. After the start, however, there was immediate criticism that the vaccinations started too slowly. According to media reports, around the turn of the year, doctors and hospital staff were also lacking in some regions to administer the vaccinations. In Lombardy, one of the hardest hit by the corona pandemic, doctors had injected only about 14 percent of the available vaccinations by the beginning of this week – unlike most other regions in the country with about 60 million residents who at the time already had nearly the given half of the vaccine doses they had received. In the new year, however, the campaign gained momentum. By Friday morning, a total of some 412,600 corona vaccinations had been injected – the majority of which went to health workers.
SPAIN: The slow start of the corona vaccination campaign is also causing great outrage in Spain. According to the Ministry of Health, from the start of the vaccination on December 27 through Thursday, only a little less than 28 percent of the received doses had been administered – about 207,000 units out of 743,925 units. The region around the capital Madrid in particular did poorly: on Tuesday evening only 11.5 percent of the received doses had been vaccinated there. Opposition leader Pablo Casado of the conservative People’s Party PP called for the resignation of Health Minister Salvador Illa. He protested that everything was going according to plan. Among other things, it is criticized that no vaccination takes place at all on weekends and holidays.
BELGIUM: After a week-long test at the end of December, Belgium announced this week that it will be vaccinating on a large scale against the corona virus. Under the plan, 70 percent of the population should have been vaccinated by the end of the summer, which should achieve nationwide immunity. Initially, only about 700 volunteers in some nursing homes had received vaccination protection. The opposition criticized that Belgium was lagging behind when it came to vaccinations, especially compared to Germany.
AUSTRIA: After the first vaccinations on December 21, approximately 6,800 people had been vaccinated in retirement homes by the beginning of the week – a fraction of the previous German balance in terms of population. Following massive public criticism of the slow implementation, the start of the large-scale vaccination, originally scheduled for January 12, was brought forward. More than 21,000 vaccinations are expected to take place this week and another 43,000 next Tuesday. In terms of quantities, the country is thinking on the safe side. 5.5 million doses of the Biontech / Pfizer vaccine alone are planned for Austria with a population of just under nine million.
SWITZERLAND: In individual cantons of Switzerland, vaccination began in front of camera before Christmas, even though Biontech / Pfizer had delivered only 100,000 doses of vaccine. At the beginning of January, another 126,000 vaccine doses were received – with a further 8.5 million inhabitants a drop in the bucket. The vaccination appointments were booked within minutes and the vaccination centers initially remained largely empty due to lack of equipment. The government was criticized for poor planning.
NETHERLANDS: As the very last country in the EU, the Netherlands started vaccinating last Wednesday. But it won’t be until January 15 that all 25 vaccination centers across the country will actually be operational. Since Christmas, the vaccine has been stored unused in a hall – most recently it was about 280,000 doses. Parliament and the public had accused the government of “vaccination chaos” and “total failure”. Physicians eventually took the initiative themselves to vaccinate doctors and nurses for corona patients. Prime Minister Mark Rutte admitted mistakes. The authorities should have prepared earlier and better for mass vaccinations.
EU: The European Commission has defended itself against criticism several times. The EU countries had agreed on a vaccination strategy and decided to order the vaccines as a whole. “I am deeply convinced that this European path is the right one and I think it will prove it in retrospect,” said Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission. The massive vaccinations are a “logistical challenge”. It was clear from the start that you couldn’t vaccinate them all “at once”. The number of vaccinations must be increased “quickly”.