Bonn/Düsseldorf New delivery delays by vaccine manufacturers are hampering vaccination progress in NRW: vaccination centers, including those in Bonn and the Rhein-Sieg district, have no appointments available for first vaccinations until at least mid-June. What does this mean for those still waiting?
No first vaccinations will be available at vaccination centers in Bonn and the Rhein-Sieg district until at least mid-June. The city of Bonn explained that this was due to the foreseen nationwide vaccine shortage. At the same time, the NRW Ministry of Health made a similar announcement, saying that vaccination centers throughout North Rhine-Westphalia would only be available for second vaccine shots "until at least mid-June." “Since April, we have almost completely used up what was in stock. At this point, we no longer have a buffer," explained NRW Health Minister Karl-Josef Laumann. He added that the lifting of vaccination prioritization from June 7 would not change this situation.
For this reason, those wanting to be vaccinated can no longer book appointments via the websites of the Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians (KV). "As soon as we have sufficient vaccine available again, we will release appointments for first vaccinations again," Laumann said.
KV asks families for patience due to vaccine shortage
With the drop in prioritization, children over the age of twelve could theoretically also be vaccinated. But Frank Bergmann, head of the North Rhine Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians, is asking families to be patient because of the vaccine shortage: "It can take eight to ten weeks until all children in this age group who want to get a vaccine are actually vaccinated." Parents should keep in touch with doctors' offices. Bergmann pointed out that - contrary to expectations - there are no special quotas from the federal government for children.
People without a family doctor also have to be patient. The KV is planning an online register where people can sign up for a vaccine at doctors offices, but due to a lack of vaccine, it is not yet functioning. The website is to include doctors who are willing to vaccinate people who are not their patients. At the moment, however, demand is so high that it is impossible to take in non-patients right now, according to the KV.
For those who are waiting for their second dose, there might just be enough. Laumann estimates there will be 511,000 second vaccinations next week and 566,000 second vaccinations the week after next. However, NRW will only receive about 530,000 doses per week for the vaccination centers.
The city of Bonn underscored that the number of vaccinations at the WCCB vaccination center has been consistent since April, ranging from 1,300 to 1,900 daily. "The vaccination center is less taxed and appears less busy at this time, because with only second vaccinations being administered, they require significantly less effort at the registration desk and in vaccination education," said spokesman Markus Schmitz.
No vaccination stipulations after June 7
Both the city and the Kassenärztliche Vereinigung Nordrhein (North Rhine Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians), which is responsible for Bonn, point out that the state has not yet announced any specific stipulations for the period after June 7. A press release from the Ministry of Health indicates that, in addition to vaccination centers and doctors' offices, private medical practices will also be able to obtain vaccine doses from pharmacies and pharmaceutical wholesalers on that date. Company physicians are also to get in on the act.
The reasons for the vaccine shortage in NRW apparently have to do with Astrazeneca: According to the KV, medical practices in NRW had been promised a total of 330,000 doses for this week, but in fact they have received only 220,000. The British manufacturer seems chronically unreliable when it comes to vaccine delivery. "The Federal Ministry of Health announced that the delivery of Astrazeneca is delayed even further. The pharmacies will now be able to get supplies on Friday at the earliest due to the holiday," says Thomas Preis, head of the North Rhine Pharmacists Association.
In some cases, this means that appointments will have to be postponed by a whole week. Johnson&Johnson deliveries are also problematic: The 55 million doses expected throughout the EU for the second quarter will probably not be reached, they say. The reason is a production stoppage and export restrictions in the USA. The manufacturer Biontech, which is otherwise considered reliable, has also reduced its deliveries for two weeks, citing fluctuations in the production process.
Orig. text: Philipp Königs, Antje Höning