People still finding it difficult to get vaccinated

style="float: right; margin-bottom: 10px; font-weight: 600;"Sat 24th Apr, 2021

After the Senate released the Astrazeneca vaccine for all those willing to be vaccinated, disappointment is spreading. It is apparently proving extremely difficult to get an appointment. Because of the scarce reserves, interested parties are mainly getting refusals from practices. And the physicians react increasingly annoyed to the many inquiries, which paralyze the practice enterprise.

The president of the state medical association, Peter Bobbert, said on Friday in the Rbb-Inforadio that the supplies were not yet enough to vaccinate everyone who wants to immediately. "And there is of course then always looked at very closely, who is particularly in need, who needs this vaccine particularly."

He advocated using all available doses - and thus not setting any aside for second vaccinations. There are so many vaccine shipments announced, he said, that there is very little risk that there won't be enough for the second vaccination. The head of the medical association does not expect a "slugfest" over Astrazeneca.

The health administration of Senator Dilek Kalayci (SPD) had released the British-Swedish preparation on Thursday for all age groups - but it is not explicitly recommended for the under-60s. Practices now no longer have to adhere to prioritization under the federal vaccination ordinance for this vaccine, but they do for the other Corona vaccines.

1500 Berlin medical practices offer vaccinations against Corona
Thomas Isenberg, health policy spokesman for the SPD in the House of Representatives and party colleague of Kalayci, had criticized the senator for the general release of the Astrazeneca drug: "Now there is a threat of a fight and fight, in which the strongest in the race for a vaccination appointment will prevail."

The Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians (KV), which is responsible for physicians in private practice, announced that in a few days it would publish on its website an overview of those practices that vaccinate with the Astrazeneca drug and have not yet scheduled all the doses that are likely to be delivered. So far, 1500 of the approximately 7000 medical practices in Berlin offer Sars-Cov-2 vaccinations.

The panel doctors said that vaccines - including Astrazeneca - have so far only been delivered in scarce batches. By Wednesday, about 84,000 doses of Biontech and about 24,500 doses of Astrazeneca had been vaccinated by doctors in Berlin, they said.

The KV board is asking Berliners to be patient "to protect practices from an increased volume of patient inquiries about Astrazeneca." But apparently this appeal is not stopping people from inquiring en masse at doctors' offices. One doctor in private practice who runs his practice in Neukölln reports that about 200 e-mails already come in every day from people who would like to be vaccinated with Astrazeneca's vaccine. "In some cases, people even come to us directly without an appointment and ask for it," says the doctor. "That blocks the practice from operating."

Only 20,000 Astrazeneca doses left in Berlin
Patients who email practices now often get standardized rejections, are asked to get back to them in a few weeks, or are put off by the fact that they have been put on a waiting list. The topic of vaccination - i.e., the management, the vaccination itself as well as dealing with those willing to be vaccinated who cannot be offered a vaccine - now takes up 80 to 90 percent of the Neukölln doctor's working time, he says. "The crazy thing is that I don't have Astrazeneca available at all."

And with that, he might not be the only one in Berlin. In response to a question from the Tagesspiegel, a spokesman for the Senate Health Administration said that Berlin's vaccination practices currently still had a stock of around 20,000 doses of Astrazeneca - in purely mathematical terms, that means around 13 doses per Berlin practice offering Corona vaccines. However, the doses are apparently unevenly distributed.

According to the German Ministry of Health, there will be temporarily no Astrazeneca supplies for practices next week, with the next deliveries expected in the first week of May. In exchange, more than two million doses of the vaccine are expected to come from Biontech/Pfizer before then. "This will allow twice as many patients to be vaccinated by GPs as in the previous three calendar weeks," a ministry spokeswoman said.

But that is unlikely to ease the situation. This is because Biontech is explicitly not released from vaccination prioritization in Berlin. This means that doctors are only allowed to use the vaccine strictly according to the priority list. In addition, Biontech deliveries are not running smoothly either, at least at present. A primary care physician with a practice in Steglitz-Zehlendorf reports how this week the doses of Biontech-Pfizer vaccine she ordered continued to purr together. "At the beginning of the week, I was told that only 24 of the 48 doses I ordered could be delivered to me." Then on Thursday, she said, she learned that only six doses were available. "So I had to cancel again 18 patients who already had their vaccination appointment for Friday."

Image by Fernando Zhiminaicela


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