The inoculation period for healthcare workers and those in social and elderly care homes has concluded. The next step on the vaccination agenda is to inoculate those above the age of 89. While this will be a positive step towards mass vaccination, its effective completion will be a big challenge for doctors.
State Secretary for Territorial Administration István György said that vaccinations had been completed in 1805 elderly and social care facilities, 64 being postponed due to the presence of the virus.
According to György, 93 percent of health-care employees and over 82,000 people living in such facilities have been vaccinated.
The inoculation of seniors above the age of 89 will begin on Thursday. While this is a step towards mass vaccination and herd immunity, there are problems around the current plan.
According to the Hungarian Central Statistical Office, there are 84,981 people above the age of 89 in Hungary. Currently, there are enough vaccines to inoculate one third of them, depending on the amount of people who have already been inoculated in care homes.
Current vaccination plans revolve around the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, but according to Hungary’s coronavirus task force, 40,000 Sputnik vaccines arrived from Russia recently, enough for 20,000 people.
To put things into perspective, there are 1.8 million people living in Hungary who are between 65 and 89 years old.
Unfortunately, fewer Moderna vaccines arrived in Hungary than the expected amount of 18 thousand, set for 1800 clinics. It is still unknown how many made it over, but doctors will have to work with what they have.
The Instructions Seem a Bit Unclear
Family doctors and vaccination centers will be responsible for administering the vaccine to patients.
Zsolt Kiss, head of the National Health Insurance Fund of Hungary, sent letters to family doctors instructing them on the vaccination procedures for the over 89 age group. One doctor shared their letter with independent news portal Telex, revealing that there are some contradictory statements and complications.
While the letter says that those who registered to be vaccinated at vakcinainfo.go.hu should be prioritized in vaccinations, it also says that those who are the oldest in the age group should be given priority.
Also, the official vaccination period is February 4 to 7, however, if necessary, inoculation can take place after work and throughout the entire week.
Another complication is the presence of individuals on vaccination lists who are not registered under their corresponding clinic, but were placed there because they do not have a family doctor.
Tight Schedules for Vaccinations in Hungary
Family doctors are responsible for picking up vaccines, syringes, and needles from government offices, as well as ensuring the transportation and timely inoculation of their designated patients.
According to a Facebook post by independent conservative Válasz Online, many family doctors believe they are not provided enough assistance with the task ahead of them, which is a demanding one.
Within a few hours doctors need to phone up 10 elderly individuals who they will inoculate with the Moderna vaccine from one ampoule. Meanwhile, they are responsible for ensuring that six other individuals make it to a vaccination center to receive the Pfizer vaccine.
Complications could arise if not all 10 people show up to be vaccinated, since once the ampoule is opened, it cannot be reused later. Doctors must also ensure that the six people registered under them for the Pfizer vaccine make it to the vaccination point within an hour.
One doctor believes that the 65-75 year old age group should have been vaccinated first since they are more active, thus making transportation and communication less worrying.
While this next round of vaccinations already has its challenges cut out, the positive side is that the vaccination of the elderly significantly mitigates potential coronavirus related deaths.
With the vaccination of one million of Hungary’s eldest people, 70% of potential coronavirus related deaths could be avoided. This is the ideal strategy for dealing with the virus, since it targets the nation’s most vulnerable age group.
Featured photo illustration by Tibor Rosta/MTI