Changing the vaccination sequence or putting risk patients first – how do we get through the pandemic quickly and fairly?

A nurse draws up vaccine.

Should the vaccination sequence be changed to get through the pandemic faster?

(Photo: imago images / Westend61)

Pros: release the vaccine!

By Kevin Knitterscheidt

At first glance, Germany seems to be vaccinating its citizens against Covid-19 at breakneck speed: every 0.4 seconds, the Ministry of Health’s vaccination dashboard lets the interested public know, a vaccination dose is currently being administered in this country. So since you started reading these lines, 30 people have received one dose of vaccine. That may sound like a lot – but in reality it is very little.

Because based on how much vaccine has already been delivered by the manufacturers Biontech / Pfizer, Moderna and Astra-Zeneca – that’s around 15.6 million doses – we have only administered three quarters of the theoretically available amount so far. One reason for this is that the federal states are sometimes holding back vaccination doses so that people who have already been vaccinated can actually be given the necessary second vaccination.

But the extent to which this happens is grotesque: For example, the federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia temporarily kept half of the vaccine delivered on heap. Other federal states such as Brandenburg or Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania hold it similarly.

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According to data from Israel, the initial vaccination, for example with the Biontech vaccine, reduces the risk of infection by more than 80 percent. However, this comparatively high level of protection is withheld from many who would like to be vaccinated – and only in order to lower the risk of infection for those who have already received a primary vaccination by a few more percentage points.

Instead of immunizing all risk groups 100 percent, politicians should therefore quickly switch to changing the sequence of vaccinations. Whether the cashier in the supermarket, the bus driver or schoolchildren and teachers: They are all multipliers, can potentially become infected with the virus, spread it and thus prolong the pandemic.

It was right and fair to prioritize the risk groups when it was not yet clear when and how much vaccine would be available. But the number of deliveries has already exceeded the Ministry of Health’s original forecast from February by two million vaccine doses. Thanks to further approvals, the delivery situation will improve rather than worsen over the next few weeks.

So if family or company doctors can help vaccinate the existing vaccine more quickly, then they will be happy – and as quickly as possible. If a high-risk patient does not receive a second vaccination, yes, then that is unfair. Any vaccine dose that lies unused in the refrigerator for even one night is even more unfair.

Cons: keep calm and common sense

From Mathias Brüggmann

Politicians are stuck in what is probably the greatest crisis of confidence since the World War: a chancellor who is making a rapid U-turn in terms of Easter rest, i.e. a hard lockdown over Easter, although she knows that short, tough measures are urgently needed in order not to increase the number of infections immeasurably to let. Corrupt Union politicians who enrich themselves with the procurement of masks.

And vaccination, test and rule chaos in the house of Health Minister Jens Spahn (CDU), who should be supported by his ministerial colleague Andreas Scheuer (CSU), who is perceived as a total failure.

So it is perfectly understandable that most people are at the end of their patience, tired and angry. That is why there are now calls to throw existing vaccination sequences overboard and to shoot vaccines from all needles. But that’s dangerous populism.

Anyone who attacks the vaccination sequence, which has been decided on for good reason and taking into account medical, ethical and moral principles, exposes our health system and our society to a disastrous stress test.

One for life and death as well as the value of life: If the elderly and the risk groups over 50 are not vaccinated first and quickly, the number of intensive care beds will not soon be available due to the rapidly increasing number of infections and the ever-increasing proportion of corona mutants more sufficient.

Triage, i.e. selecting who is still being treated and who is no longer being helped, would be inevitable. And that is the most terrible thing that would shake a society as rich and striving for social equilibrium as the German one.

Because it is obvious: A 30-year-old factory worker has a better chance of surviving a corona infection without life-threatening symptoms without vaccination than a 60-year-old after a heart attack or a 20-year-old whose blood has to be cleaned regularly using dialysis. This takes into account the sequence of vaccinations, company doctors cannot even have this on their radar.

Therefore: stick to the sequence, quickly invite those who are intended to vaccinate with whatever vaccine is available, postpone the second dose a little and use the company doctors primarily for testing.

Because in order to prevent infections, especially at work, in full means of transport, in schools and kindergartens, tests must be carried out as professionally as possible. And for the rest of the medical profession in vaccination centers and general practitioners’ practices: vaccinate, vaccinate, vaccinate.

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