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The country facing the challenge of vaccination

The Ministry of Health has pledged to vaccinate 71,355 people by the end of March. A bet which will depend on the arrivals of the laboratories, the organizational capacities and the voluntary service of the population.

Patrick JACQUEMOT

Patrick JACQUEMOT

The Ministry of Health has pledged to vaccinate 71,355 people by the end of March. A bet which will depend on the arrivals of the laboratories, the organizational capacities and the voluntary service of the population.

This must be the question the Minister of Health is most subject to at the moment: “So when?” When will the vaccines arrive? When will my turn come? When will the entire population of age or able to be vaccinated be vaccinated? And Paulette Lenert is not lying when she admits not having the answers. However, here the authorities risked a prognosis. Successfully complete this first trimester with 71,335 people vaccinated in the country.

Sign of the feverishness surrounding the question, Wednesday, the calculations were rather on a total of 66,480. In the end, no one will complain about this sudden increase in expectations for this vaccine campaign which, two days after the arrival of the first batch of vials, is slow to be deployed. Since December 28, nearly 27,000 doses were administered, but only) 6,514 seniors or caregivers have already benefited from the two doses recommended by the three laboratories selected for the moment.

The optimism of the government undoubtedly comes from the new schedule provided for the arrival of vaccines in the Grand Duchy for the coming weeks. An influx like the country has never received before, in proportion to 0.14% of the total doses purchased by the European Commission on behalf of the Member States. An optimism that prompted Monday to arm a second vaccination center in Esch-Belval. A site which is added to the Victor-Hugo center in Luxembourg-city, which has been in operation for six weeks, and which from February 25 will be supported by two other sites: Ettelbrück and Mondorf-les-Bains.

Almost physically, the vaccination campaign is thus getting closer to the populations. In the capital, in the south, north and east of the country, the battle against the epidemic is becoming visible. The Sanitary Reserve has had time to swell its ranks (with administrative staff, nurses and doctors) and the weapons are ready to thwart the attacks of a virus: phase 2 can begin now.

The battle plan is clear: doses will be administered according to age and vulnerability. The oldest and most vulnerable residents first; young adults in the last assault. And no need to ask again when … Only certainty, it was decided to reserve the 5 vaccination centers until the end of the year.

Because the great weakness of this struggle comes from stewardship. The laboratories are slow to provide the expected doses, announced. During her last press conference, the Minister of Health even sighed: “The delivery program often changes, sometimes several times a day” … Difficult in these conditions to calmly implement the defined strategy.

Before reaching satisfactory immunization, it will take months. When? This will depend in particular on the next marketing authorizations issued by the European Medicines Agency. After admitting the Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZenecca formulas, she must decide on other serums. Starting with the Johnson & Jonhson file.

And from this vaccine Europe (and therefore Luxembourg) expects a lot. It does not require two but only one injection, therefore without delay, and above all it is much easier to store (no need for refrigerators at -70 ° C unlike its competitors). Ease of use that could allow town doctors or pharmacists to administer it. Here again, this would bring the population a little closer to vaccination, a necessary factor for good adherence to the campaign.

Volunteers, do you count

Because here is another unknown: volunteering. The virus has been scary for months, but the speed with which vaccines have been launched has left some puzzled. Just as the limitations that keep being announced (not for pregnant women for this one, not recommended for over 65s for another) can slow down the enthusiasm. In retirement homes, the participation rate was impressive from the start, will it be the same elsewhere? In hospitals or after younger workers?

Not to mention some feedback from the field that is already being heard. Here, it is the director of a health establishment who saw some of his employees vaccinated the day before be absent the next day. Severe fatigue, headaches being observed on 10% of the workforce to be immunized. An undesirable effect which could turn off some.

So everyone has to wait. The health authorities while waiting for the trucks loaded with anticovid doses; citizens while waiting for the letter inviting them to be vaccinated at the center of their choice; nurses waiting for each other. The virus expects nothing from it, it continues on its way. As if to have already infected at least 53,000 residents and taking the lives of 619 people in the Grand Duchy was not enough for him.


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