1. GA-English
  2. News

People on hold: The releasing of the vaccines

People on hold : The releasing of the vaccines

Doctors' offices in the region have been receiving many inquiries since the vaccine release at the start of the week. Online platforms are supposed to help relieve them. But that only works with enough vaccine.

At the moment all lines are busy, please stay on the line" - such tape announcements are no longer heard only in the help hotline, but also in many doctors' offices in Bonn and the region. Many physicians and their staff were hardly reachable in view of the lifting of vaccination prioritization on Monday. Online booking systems, which are to come from private initiatives and also the Kassenärztliche Vereinigung Nordrhein (KVNO), could provide a remedy. But at the bad vaccine supply this changes nothing.

Susanne Müller has been explaining the same thing on the phone for days. It is about education about coronavirus vaccines, but above all a disappointing cancellation for many callers. "We can only do second vaccinations at the moment," says the medical assistant, who works in Shiva Pourvahidi's practice in Beuel. Especially on Monday, many patients would have called, because since June 7, vaccination prioritization has been lifted.

Theoretically, every citizen can receive a vaccination, as long as there is enough vaccine. This is not the case for Pourvahidi and her colleagues in the region. She serves about 1,000 people with her comparatively small practice. "And even for them, we don't have enough," Müller says. Accordingly, those who are strangers have poor chances of receiving a vaccination spontaneously. "We have our own lists that we work through when vaccine is available or left over." Currently, it is also only enough for the second immunization, for which the appointments have already been allocated anyway. "We can't do it any other way, because we only get doses for the second vaccination from the pharmacies where we order the vaccine, and we have to prove that."

How often the phone rings is hardly counted in many places. Nadja Pütz, an employee at Peter-Martin Klassen's medical practice in Bonn, would have expected a bigger rush at the beginning of the week, however. "Probably word got out about the supply shortages," she says. Asked whether she prefers to get a vaccination request by phone or mail? "The phone calls are already holding up because we have to repeat ourselves a lot." Between 30 and 50 requests land in the mailbox every day, sometimes going unanswered for a few days, depending on the workload. "You can tell that patients are sending circular emails."

Some are lucky if they follow up or have good contacts. For example, one man tells GA that he received a "residual vaccination" through a doctor friend. With special syringe material, seven vaccine doses can be drawn from a Biontech ampoule instead of six, which is allowed. Those who can't win the seventh syringe throw the rest away - but those who do can immunize one more person.

Munich entrepreneur Johannes Gerstner, among others, has been thinking about how to relieve the burden on medical practices. He founded the non-profit project www.sofort-impfen.de. With the new platform it wants to make it possible that those who are inoculation-willing get an inoculation date faster with a family doctor and then no more leftover doses must be thrown away. Those who want to be vaccinated register with their e-mail address. Doctors, in turn, enter their practice data and then gain access to a personal appointment management system. As soon as doctors have a vaccine dose left over, they can network with people interested in vaccination in their area. They then receive an e-mail with all the information. The vaccine will also be mentioned. So far, however, the portal has not been activated for Bonn and the surrounding area. The NRW version www.impfpool.de, which was developed by urologists from Westphalia-Lippe, works in a similar way, but more data has to be entered there. Here, too, a message is sent as soon as an appointment is available. For Bonn, the statistics show several thousand people who want to be vaccinated.

How well the system works, deputy KVNO spokesman Christopher Schneider does not want to allow himself to judge. "In perspective, however, such digital offering can in principle possibly accelerate or support speedy and broad vaccination coverage of the population - together with practices, vaccination centers and company physicians," he says. Susanne Müller also believes that such approaches are the right thing to do, although she says it is still too early for this: "We don't even have enough vaccine for our own patients yet, so we can't release anything on the portals.“

Vaccination-willing must have patience

The KVNO is planning an online directory of vaccinating practices for the coming weeks, especially to be able to refer those willing to be vaccinated who do not have a family doctor. "However, in view of the current shortage of vaccines that still exists, such a directory does not make sense at the moment. In addition, the practices are likely to be busy for another two to three weeks with the vaccinations of the upper prioritization groups, here in particular with the upcoming second vaccinations," says Schneider. In general, he advises being patient and not overwhelming doctors' offices with requests. "You should ask your primary care physician or specialist again about a vaccination opportunity around mid- to late June."

Family Minister Stamp sent letter to parents

One week after schools, daycare centers in NRW have also returned to normal operations. NRW Family Minister Joachim Stamp (FDP) justified the change to fully comprehensive care with the low incidence figures. At the same time, he once again appealed for understanding: "As Minister of Family Affairs, I am aware that the pandemic has often pushed you as parents and as a family to your limits. We have put a lot on your shoulders," reads a letter from the minister to parents. Over the past few months, the number of hours of childcare had been reduced by ten hours in each case. Working parents in particular have been faced with major challenges.

On Monday, according to the will of the minister, the separation of the groups should also end, which should reduce the risk of infection. But more than a few daycare centers are sticking with group separation for now. "The rules vary from place to place: some daycare providers have decided together with parents that group separation will be maintained," confirmed Ayla Çelik, deputy state chairwoman of the Education and Science Union (GEW). The fear of infection has not disappeared, and a large number of kindergarten teachers have not yet been fully vaccinated.

(Original text: Nicolas Ottersbach - Translation: Mareike Graepel​)