The start of vaccination is getting closer

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The first Covid vaccinations are scheduled to start as early as January. Who can get the vaccine and when? An overview

Question: When is the possibility to be vaccinated in Austria?
Answer: As it looks, certain groups should be able to get vaccination as early as January. The European Medicines Agency (EMA) plans to submit its opinion on the first vaccine as early as Dec. 21 – eight days earlier than originally planned. This means that the vaccine could be approved in the EU before Christmas. After that, the first vaccine doses should arrive in Austria within a few days.

Question: Which vaccine will we get?

Answer: Initially, it will be the mRNA vaccine from Pfizer/Biontech that will be vaccinated. The second Covid vaccine, the one from Moderna, should receive EMA approval in January. Both manufacturers will then immediately start delivering the vaccines already produced. At the end of January or beginning of February, the third vaccine from Astra Zeneca / Oxford University will be available.

Question: Will there be enough vaccine?

Answer: Austria will receive 1.5 million vaccine doses in the first quarter – 800,000 people can be supplied with it. Because: Two doses are necessary for one immunization. However, Austria is not buying the vaccine on its own, but is participating in the joint EU vaccine procurement – available supply quantities are distributed among the 27 member states according to population shares.

Question: Who can be vaccinated and when?

Answer: The Ministry of Health has prepared a vaccination strategy. For this, the upcoming year 2021 has been divided into three phases: In January and February, people in nursing homes and the staff there, as well as the staff of hospitals and health care facilities with a high risk of exposure, are to be vaccinated. Also: defined high-risk groups.

Question: who counts as a high-risk group?

Answer: very high priority, according to the government’s vaccination plans, is given to people over 80 years of age, and high priority is given to people with pre-existing conditions. However, the government says it will not be able to determine who will receive the vaccine until it is clear which vaccine will be available when and in what quantities – because some of them have different requirements and storage conditions.

Question: When will the second and third phases begin?

Answer: According to the plan, the second phase covers February, March and April. During this time, the target group will be continuously expanded. People of “older age,” people in 24-hour care, and caregivers and attendants in mobile services could be vaccinated. The third phase will start from the second quarter of 2021, at which point vaccine should be widely available and all people who wish to be vaccinated should be given the opportunity.

Question: Against what diesease does the vaccination protect?

Answer: Experts expect about 90 percent protection against covid. It is unclear whether the vaccination can also prevent further transmission of the virus.

Question: Why do logistics play such an important role?

Answer: Unlike in Germany, a decentralized distribution concept has been developed for Austria. This means that the vaccine goes directly to the people – to where they live. The strategic partner for this decentralized distribution concept is the pharmaceutical wholesaler Phago. Its well-functioning mobile drug distribution system will be used to distribute the vaccines to hospitals, nursing homes, pharmacies and doctors.

Question: How important is it to maintain a constant cold chain?

Answer: With mRNA vaccines, refrigeration is a challenge. For example, Pfizer/Biontech’s vaccine must be stored at minus 70 degrees Celsius. Once thawed, it must be vaccinated within five days. In a transport box specially designed by Pfizer, the vaccine lasts for two weeks, but only a few days at plus degrees. Vector vaccines such as the one from Astra Zeneca can also withstand normal refrigerator temperatures.

Question: Will there be compulsory vaccination?

Answer: In its vaccination strategy, the government clearly opposes a general vaccination requirement. Experts are also against it: Because the decision should be based on voluntariness, they say.

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