How many people have to be vaccinated

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The approval of a Covid 19 vaccine is imminent: The European Medicines Agency (EMA) has announced that it will decide on the approval of the BioNTech/ Pfizer and Moderna vaccines for the EU on December 29 and January 12, respectively. But does the vaccination really bring the turning point in the pandemic? Experts talked about this in a background discussion.

There will be no compulsory vaccination in Austria – Clemens Martin Auer, Covid Special Representative in the Ministry of Health, emphasized this once again. This also applies to people who work in the health sector or in nursing homes. For Auer, the key to the highest possible vaccination rate against Covid-19 lies in the medical profession and other health care personnel. Since there will be “no legal obligation to vaccinate”, these groups must be optimally informed about the individual vaccines. If that does not succeed, “the other dominoes will fall.”

Start in nursing homes
In Austria, the strategy calls for a January launch among residents and staff in nursing homes. Since this is the area most at risk, this approach is “quite logical” because it also brings the greatest relief for hospitals and intensive care units, says Auer. Here, as far as possible, everyone – from the senior physician to the “florist”, so to speak – should really be immunized.

For this to succeed, he said, physicians and nurses in particular must be brought along. If the medical profession is not sufficiently convinced of the safety and usefulness of vaccination, it could be difficult to achieve the epidemiologically necessary vaccination coverage rate of between 60 and 65 percent, according to Auer.

Auer said he would also like to see the 60 to 65 percent vaccination coverage rate in the particularly sensitive area of nursing homes and homes for the elderly. “His minister” – Health Minister Rudolf Anschober would like to see a vaccination coverage rate of at least 50 percent “plus a big X,” Auer said.

But he also said that the owners of the facilities, many of which are severely Covid-19-ridden, have duties of care to patients and staff: “Vaccination is an adequate means of minimizing risk,” the special envoy appealed. Away from a non-existent vaccination obligation, he added, there are no more instruments at hand to achieve the goals.

Monika Lechleitner, director of the regional hospital Hochzirl – Natters (Tyrol) spoke out for the early start of “clear and good information campaigns”. Not only the residents of old people’s and nursing homes, but in many cases also regular visitors belong to the vulnerable group of over-65s, said the geriatric expert. In addition, many people over 60 care for family members at home throughout Austria, she added. Vaccination offers protection for older people and their surroundings, because the “60 plus” age group is known to have a mortality rate that is about five times higher, Lechleitner said.

Last but not least, the elderly also have a clearly increased risk of ending up in an intensive care unit. About three weeks ago, the situation here came to a head, according to Thomas Staudinger, head of the intensive care unit at the Medical University of Vienna. Since Covid-19, “we don’t have the health care system running the way we were used to.” According to international estimates, up to a third of the additional deaths are not caused by Covid due to a lack of resources for treatment. “Vaccination is one way to take the pressure off from this situation,” said the intensive care physician, who believes that even after a broader vaccination campaign, it could be months before his area returns to an already busy normal state.

“We need a vaccination recommendation”
Christiane Druml, chairwoman of the Bioethics Commission of the Federal Chancellery, also pleaded for recommendations for a vaccination in public. The free vaccination was a “privilege that we should accept”. Although the Commission’s assumptions are based on well-tolerated and effective vaccinations, no recommendation for an obligation is made, also because relatively little reliable information is currently available on the individual vaccines.

It is not yet possible to assess whether, for example, proof of a Covid 19 vaccination might be required for entry into Austria in the future. This “political question” arises primarily for the entire Schengen area and is currently “not on the agenda,” but could end up there, said Auer. For example, he said, there are considerations on the part of the World Health Organization (WHO) about including Covid-19 vaccinations in the international immunization record. In the event that something like this does come about, Auer says there also needs to be complete digital information about who has already been vaccinated in Austria.

  • hp, Source: kleinezeitung.at. picture: pixabay.com
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