The Hungarian government is committed to providing voluntary and free vaccination against the coronavirus, the head of the Prime Minister’s Office told a regular press briefing on Thursday.
Gergely Gulyás said anyone who wants to get vaccinated should register at vakcinainfo.gov.hu. Registration forms will also be delivered by post from Friday, he said, adding that registration will be used to gauge the demand for the vaccine.
The first doses of vaccines are expected to reach Hungary at the end of this year or early next year, and frontline workers and the elderly will be the first to be inoculated.
Regarding the distribution of the coronavirus vaccine, Gulyás said a centralised campaign is necessary to motivate people to get inoculated. According to current polls, some 30 to 60 percent of Hungarians are willing to be vaccinated, while a 60-70 percent inoculation rate is necessary to achieve herd immunity.
The data from vaccine registration is being handled by the cabinet office, which is responsible for the campaign, he said.
Gulyás said it was too early to tell whether the epidemic had peaked in Hungary, adding that the government hoped infections had flat-lined and fatalities would start to fall soon. The number of hospitalised coronavirus patients is still below 8,000, and ICU beds are still available, he said.
He said Hungary was now among the countries conducting the most tests. Teachers and health-care workers have been tested in two rounds, and this week is dedicated to the testing of public servants, all of whom will have been tested by January at the latest, he said.
Gulyás noted that the government had extended coronavirus-related restrictions until Jan. 11, and will decide on special measures for the Christmas period on Dec. 21.
Regarding opening times of shops on Christmas Eve, Gulyás noted the trade union of retail workers have said shopping times for the elderly would restrict opening times to a point “where it may not make sense to open at all”.
The government is also consulting with retail organisations and the Council of the Elderly on handling overcrowding in shops, he said. The government is open to new measures and will announce them on Friday or Saturday in the event such measures are taken, he said. Petards and fireworks will be banned this year, he added.
Featured photo by Zoltán Máthé/MTI