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Corona pandemic: Vaccination pace stagnates - millions of doses in storage

Corona pandemic : Vaccination pace stagnates - millions of doses in storage

It won’t be vaccinations that stop the third wave of coronavirus in Germany. The vaccine is still too scarce for that. Instead of shots being put into arms, many vaccine doses are still in storage in various German states.

Some states lag behind others in Covid-19 vaccinations.

For those German states doing best in getting out vaccines; Saarland, Bremen, Schleswig-Holstein and Thuringia, 11 percent or more of the population has received at least one dose of vaccine as of Thursday. In other states, considerably less than 10 percent of their citizens had received a first vaccine dose: Saxony, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, North Rhine-Westphalia, Lower Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt, Baden-Württemberg, Hesse and Hamburg. The information can be found in vaccination records updated daily by the Federal Ministry of Health.

In a government statement, Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) urged federal, state and local governments to do better in the face of the rampant third wave with the presumably deadlier British variant of the virus. Addressing the states responsible for vaccination appointments, Merkel said that it was not acceptable if someone did not show up for an appointment and consequently, that dose went unused.

A week after the Astrazeneca vaccine was put back in use following a short freeze, online booking for vaccination appointments has not yet been reactivated in all German states. How much of the delivered vaccine has been administered in each state varies.

DELIVERED - VACCINATED:

Until Tuesday, the federal government had delivered 3.37 million doses of vaccine to North Rhine-Westphalia, according to the health department's vaccination dashboard. Only 70 percent of those had been administered by Thursday. Bavaria received 2.46 million doses - 80.3 percent were injected. Baden-Württemberg received 2.08 million doses - 74.7 percent were administered. Lower Saxony got 1.5 million doses - 73.8 percent have been used.

Hesse received 1.19 million doses, according to the figures, and administered 75 percent of those. Rhineland-Palatinate received more than 0.77 million doses, with 79.8 percent being used. Saxony received nearly 0.77 million doses, but administered only 71.1 percent so far. Berlin received 0.7 million, with 77.7 percent administered. Schleswig-Holstein received 0.55 million doses, 77 percent of the doses were used. In the other states, vaccination rates are lower overall.

A total of about 286,000 vaccine doses were administered Wednesday, according to the Robert Koch Institute - five days after the end of the nearly four-day Astrazeneca vaccine freeze. On the Wednesday before the vaccination freeze, it was 280,000 doses, and on the Friday before the freeze, 304,000 doses.

WHAT STATE AUTHORITIES ARE SAYING:

In the two largest states with lower vaccination numbers than the rest of Germany, North Rhine-Westphalia and Baden-Württemberg, progress on vaccinations has been an issue for days now. NRW Health Minister Karl-Josef Laumann asked local governments on Thursday to to offer the vaccine to more people in cases where they go unused. "We want to make progress." The previous day, Laumann spoke of "false reports” about "vaccine doses in stockpile."" The vaccine doses in warehouses are to be made available for scheduled appointments or second doses.

In Baden-Württemberg, Social Welfare Minister Manne Lucha (Greens) called it a "success" when he announced that by the end of March they would be finished with vaccines for citizens over 80 and for those over 65 from certain occupational groups.

DIFFERENCES IN VACCINATION RATES FOR THOSE OVER 80:

According to the Robert Koch Institute, more than 73 percent of those over 80 in Saarland had received a first dose as of Wednesday - compared with only about 59 percent each in Baden-Württemberg and the NRW region of Westphalia-Lippe, and just under 50 percent in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania.

The head of the Standing Commission on Vaccination (Stiko), Thomas Mertens, had warned that those most at risk for severe Covid-19 would be at a disadvantage. He pointed out the fact that teachers, educators and police officers, for example, are sometimes vaccinated first, even if they are young and healthy. In Baden-Württemberg, for example, educational staff in schools and daycare centers have been eligible for vaccination since mid-February.

VACCINATING AT EASTER - AND AFTERWARDS:

Vaccinations are to continue despite the Easter holidays. "We have asked the local vaccination centers continue vaccinating over the holidays," said a spokeswoman for the Ministry of Health in Hanover. Saxony-Anhalt also wants to continue vaccinating. In Baden-Württemberg, a spokeswoman for the Ministry of Health said that vaccinations would also continue over Easter, depending on the availability of vaccine.

In the week after Easter, family doctors are also to start administering Covid-19 vaccines nationwide - but starting with just under one million doses a week, around 20 doses for each practice. After Easter, however, deliveries are to increase significantly. According to the Federal Ministry of Health, up to 15.3 million doses of vaccine are to be delivered in April - only 4.5 million fewer than in the entire first quarter. With an expected 70.5 to 73.5 million Corona vaccine doses, it should then be possible to vaccinate significantly more people in Germany in the second quarter.

Orig. text: Basil Wegener, dpa

Translation: ck

(ga)