Politics

You should vaccinate Austria: can the doctors do it?

Up to 100,000 vaccinations are to be administered daily in the second quarter. Is that possible with 6,200 networked contract doctors?

The Astra Zeneca vaccine can and should also be used in people over the age of 65 – if they wish to be vaccinated. After the “National Vaccination Committee” made this long-foreseeable decision on Friday, the audience for vaccinations will also change in the next few days.

As reported, individual federal states have temporarily switched to vaccinating younger people such as teachers and kindergarten staff so that the Astra Zeneca cans do not stay in the camps.

With the clarification that has now been made, that should be over again. “The elderly and high-risk patients now have absolute priority,” ventured Federal Chancellor Sebastian Kurz after a conversation with the governors.

The head of government is a clear advocate of the thesis that it is better to vaccinate according to age cohorts and not according to “system relevance”.

According to reports, there is already agreement among the federal states in this regard – especially since it has been agreed that all those who have now organized a vaccination appointment should at least get the vaccination.

Apart from the question of who is vaccinated, another issue in the government is how it is vaccinated, or more specifically: by whom. Because while around 23,000 people are currently receiving a vaccination per day (as of March 4th), this number should soon triple due to the large quantities delivered in March.

As if that weren’t enough, there could be up to 100,000 vaccinations on some peak days. And that in turn leads to the question: Is this really feasible for the 6,200 resident and digitally networked doctors? Or shouldn’t the pharmacies – as with the antigen tests – “step in” to provide a larger number of vaccinators at short notice?

Sharp rejection

If you ask the doctors, the answer is clear: They categorically reject this. There are good reasons why the law only allows doctors and well-trained health care workers to give injections. The federal government is convinced that such emergency measures, i.e. vaccinations by pharmacists or paramedics, are not necessary for the time being.

At the periphery, it is said, there will also be regional vaccination lines based on the model of the test roads. And the general practitioners would press the pace with vaccination insofar as they either work in the aforementioned vaccination routes themselves or define special vaccination days on which they open their ordination exclusively for vaccination.

The structure of the Austrian Health Insurance Fund (ÖGK) is seen as an essential aid – it is supposed to set up vaccination bases for its part.

“The most important step for us was that we set up a centralized appointment system in every federal state via the Internet and telephone,” says a strategist from the crisis team. “This ensures that it is not just up to individual doctors to decide when and whom to vaccinate.”

In order for an average of 65,000 vaccinations per day to happen in May, larger companies will set up vaccination lanes – appropriate concepts are already in place.

It will be exciting to see what happens when the concern proves that the virus mutates extremely quickly and that immunity has to be refreshed and vaccinated every year.

The government is still holding back in this regard. Only this much: then national vaccination days would probably be necessary in September. And the ÖGK, for example, offers a good infrastructure for this.

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