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Doctors to vaccinate from today: Vaccination chaos in Rhein-Sieg district causes anger and criticism

Doctors to vaccinate from today : Vaccination chaos in Rhein-Sieg district causes anger and criticism

The special plan of the Rhein-Sieg-Kreis not to supply over-60-year-olds in the vaccination center causes criticism and anger among the citizens. The coordinating physician is trying to smooth the waters. There are special arrangements for people who do not have their family doctor in the district.

Sebastian Schuster can go from defensive mode to attack in split seconds. The district administrator takes no prisoners usually. The fact that he was inundated with nasty e-mails over the long Easter weekend apparently took even him by surprise. As much as he understands the emotional reactions of the affected over-60s who tried in vain over the holidays to get hold of a vaccination appointment, he rejects any blame for the information disaster. Those responsible for it were those who "organised this lottery," Schuster scolds the Corona situation in the district at the telephone press conference. "They" in Düsseldorf and Berlin made promises again and again, "which we are then supposed to implement.“

"Disappointed and appalled" about the special way of the Rhine-Sieg district to carry out the vaccinations of the Ü-60-year-olds with the vaccine from Astrazeneca decentrally via the vaccinators, says not only Jürgen Pelkner from Bornheim. Countless citizens from the district tried over the long Easter weekend to book a vaccination appointment via the central contact data of the Kassenärztliche Vereinigung Nordrhein (KV). Peter Johe also tried in vain. He began trying to log into the online appointment portal shortly after midnight on Saturday morning. During the day, he reports, the telephone hotline was constantly busy. "After hours, I give up, unnerved. Although at times - albeit with very patient response times - an appointment booking portal popped up. Only unfortunately, all appointments from April to September are 'not bookable,'" he writes. Others contact their family doctor, as a family from Bornheim-Roisdorf reports. Only he could not deliver anything concrete either. This newspaper hears similar things from people from Niederkassel to Stieldorf. There the family doctor seemed not to be up to date about the whole event. And also in the so-called main practices some physicians did not know anything, apparently. These decentralized vaccination lines in the medical practices had been set up to vaccinate the occupational groups that had been prioritized: Primary school teachers, educators and physiotherapists.

As reported, the district administrator had announced at the press conference on Maundy Thursday that all citizens between the ages of 60 and 79 who wanted to be vaccinated with Astrazeneca could do so with immediate effect. In a first round, the vaccine should be administered via the 35 decentralized vaccination lines of the "focus practices" in the 19 municipalities, then via all family doctors with health insurance license. Then someone decided however at the weekend to hand vaccinations immediately over to the family doctors, a spokeswoman of the district council said on Tuesday upon GA inquiry. The focal practices are now to distribute the vaccine only to the family doctors. The quantity is based in each case on the size of the municipality in which the practice is located.

Even Jacqueline Hiepler, chairwoman of the Rhine-Sieg Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians and responsible for coordinating vaccinations, had learned through the GA that vaccination via family doctors was a done deal. "Of course, I had been informed in advance about the considerations, but the agreement of the state health ministry was still missing," she said. It was not until Saturday evening, she said, that she was informed of the final course of action. As a result, she said, she began informing family physicians in the district about the next steps. "We have a pandemic," she said apologetically. Things may not go quite as smoothly as people would like. Hiepler, herself a family doctor in Hennef, had her hands full on Tuesday morning answering inquiries from both patients and colleagues and "smoothing the waters," as she says.

Meanwhile, Schuster continues to defend his strategy: "We could not have vaccinated 14,000 additional doses in such a short time in the vaccination center. There would have been a capacity of 400 vaccinations a day at most. That would have taken five weeks." Apart from that, the servers at the KV were already completely overloaded. The frustration could have been at least as great. To the Ü-60-age group in the Rhine Sieg district are approximately 132,000 persons. "And for them we get 14,000 vaccine doses. There everyone can calculate the odds." The fact that citizens complain that he has taken away their chance of vaccination is something he cannot understand.

The situation is aggravated by the fact that the federal program, according to which family doctors vaccinate Biontech, is also starting this week. They initially provide to all bedridden who had not yet received a vaccination offer. Then also chronically ill persons and their maintaining contact persons are to be inoculated by them.

In addition, Hiepler said, the registration system will be changed starting Tuesday. So anyone who goes to their family doctor for vaccinations now will have to present their insurance card. Private patients will be registered by hand. This is to prevent data from being lost. The practices have predefined numbers at their disposal, which can be used to record exactly who has received which vaccine from which prioritization group. Billing, meanwhile, continues to be handled by the federal government.

Hiepler believes the district administrator's decision to proceed in this way was the right one. "The vaccination center in Sankt Augustin is not equipped for such a rush. There we would need five to six weeks to administer the 14,000 to 16,000 vaccine doses," she explains. The 450 or so general practitioners with their 250 or so practices can do it in much less time.

And so it goes on: the vaccine is distributed to the family doctors via the 35 decentralized vaccination routes in the district. People over 60 who want to be vaccinated with Astrazeneca must contact their primary care physicians. Those who live in Rhine-Sieg County but have their primary care physician in another community can email to coronavirus@rhein-sieg-kreis.de. "We then try to include those individuals through the vaccination center," Hiepler said. Hasper, meanwhile, noted that anyone can also contact a primary care physician in their area.

Criticism about "the confusing and decentralised approach to the vaccination of the additional Astrazeneca vaccine doses" comes from the SPD district council faction. "While Bonn is already vaccinating centrally from Sunday, people in the Rhein-Sieg district have to be patient and secretly hope that their own family doctor's practice will be lucky enough to be allowed to vaccinate," says the health policy spokeswoman of the SPD faction, Katja Ruiters. "We are concerned that this also creates a social divide: Those who have good contact with the right focal practice have better chances of being vaccinated in a timely manner than fellow citizens* who lack the appropriate relationships. In order to bring about at least something more fairness, we ask the district administration to communicate now clearly and transparently, which 30 practices will inoculate starting from Tuesday, so that everyone gets the same possibility of receiving an early date“, says Anna Peters, deputy parliamentary group chairman of the SPD district parliamentary group from Bornheim.

The FDP district council faction has requested a special meeting of the Health and Inclusion Committee. "The decision of the district administrator has led to chaos and great annoyance in the population on the weekend. Even if there were good reasons for this decision, it should have been communicated through all possible channels. It is not enough to put a message on the website of the district," criticised FDP- faction leader Christian Koch.

(Original text: Dylan Cem Akalin / Translation: Mareike Graepel)