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Rush to get a vaccine from primary care physicians: Vaccinations in Bonn private practices off to a slow start

Rush to get a vaccine from primary care physicians : Vaccinations in Bonn private practices off to a slow start

Bonn general practitioners have experienced some unhappy people in the last days. The numerous changes in the past days as to who is eligible for a vaccination are causing some chaos. What is going well and what still needs to be improved?

Since general practitioners are now permitted to administer Covid-19 vaccines, their practices are experiencing a flurry of activity. This is also the case in Bonn. Anyone who tried to reach a primary care physician by phone on Wednesday, which was open despite the Easter vacations, often heard only a busy signal for hours.

One doctor, whom the GA reached around noon on Wednesday - on Wednesdays most practices are closed in the afternoon - described the following scene at the front door of her practice. "Many patients came by in person to ask for a vaccination appointment." But the few doses of vaccine she received were quickly administered, she said. Primarily to patients with significant pre-existing conditions, she said.

"It is good that now more and more (people) can be vaccinated in the family practices," said a family doctor who has his practice in the north of Bonn. Like the previously mentioned doctor, he did not want his name to be used. "No matter what you say, you only get yourself into trouble," he explained. It’s not only the patients who are completely stressed out. "In the meantime, those who are responsible (for getting out the vaccines) are blaming each other for the fact that things are still not really moving forward with vaccinations." In his view, the government should have put primary care physicians in charge of vaccinations from the start, he said. "After all, we know best which patients are at risk." The priority list does not include patients with many pre-existing conditions that could cause a severe progression of the disease or even a fatality.

Numerous changes in vaccination eligibility

Numerous changes in vaccination eligibility have contributed to the rush on primary care physicians' offices. In Bonn, for example, people in more than 30 occupational and special groups can no longer book appointments at the vaccination center in the WCCB, according to deputy city spokesman Marc Hoffmann. "They have to wait for their age group to be eligible and get their vaccination at their primary care physician." Similarly, he said, there are no longer any appointments at the Immunization Center for those over 60, receiving the Astrazeneca vaccine. "Those appointments are now completely booked." People with pre-existing conditions and those with Level 5 and Level 4 care also need to contact their primary care physicians.

A reader complained to the GA that her 78-year-old, chronically ill mother with a medical certificate and current vaccination eligibility had been turned away despite an appointment at the vaccination center which had been confirmed by e-mail. The reason, she said, was the vaccination glitch with Astrazeneca, prompting the Bonn health department to cancel numerous appointments. "Unfortunately, we and some other persons who were affected did not receive any mail about the cancellation," the reader said.

Booking portal "unfortunately not perfect"

Hoffmann commented, "In the vaccination center, there have been many cases in the past few days where people had appointment confirmations, but for various reasons these were not transferred into the system or were later unintentionally canceled by the people themselves. In these cases, the booking portal is unfortunately not perfect, but it has been reworked in the meantime." It was not possible to help these individuals in every case by switching to a different vaccine and re-registering or by booking a new appointment, he acknowledged. "There were some cases of that every day, unfortunately. This should not happen now with the completion of this special campaign." Hoffmann could not say exactly how many such cases there were.

Another reader told the GA that, as a person with a pre-existing condition, he was not informed by the health department about a possible vaccination appointment until the deadline had passed. "This must have been a glitch for which we apologize," Hoffmann said. He points out that the city of Bonn now provides daily updates on the vaccination situation on the internet at www.bonn.de/impfen. "Unfortunately, something changes almost daily, but we as a city cannot influence that."

Orig. text: Lisa Inhoffen
Translation: ck