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Hungary’s Mass Vaccination of Healthcare Workers Hindered by Technical Problems

Péter Cseresnyés 2021.01.06.

Although in a recent interview Prime Minister Viktor Orbán stated that all the necessary technical conditions are in place to begin swift mass vaccinations against Covid-19 in Hungary, it seems that even the recently started inoculation of healthcare workers faces quite a few difficulties. Several doctors and even the Hungarian Medical Chamber reported severe technical problems.

After calling numerous vaccination points in Budapest with a failed attempt to get his coronavirus vaccine, Pediatrician Hunor Novák shared his experience in a Facebook post.

Novák said that in one place nobody answered the phone, elsewhere the phone lines were completely turned off. Calling a third vaccination center, he was told that they only vaccinate their own workers, even though the location was announced as a vaccination point. Elsewhere, Novák was told that he could apply for the vaccination only online but the person was quick to add that the application website didn’t work. The other vaccination points in Budapest did not even pick up the phone.

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Novák finally concluded that despite the excellent specialists- the doctors and nurses fighting beyond their limits- the underlying administrative and IT background is extremely weak.

Similar to Dr. Novák, the Hungarian Medical Chamber (MOK) also raised its voice against the difficulties of rolling out the vaccination to healthcare workers.

In his summary, Tamás Svéd, the secretary of the Chamber, reported disorganization, messy procedures, and difficulties in applying for vaccinations, available on MOK’s website.

According to Svéd, hospitals have more or less organized the immunization of their own staff, but healthcare professionals working elsewhere find themselves in a difficult situation when they try to schedule appointments to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

“On the websites of the vaccination points, online appointments only work in some places, but the functioning ones also fill up quickly,” Tamás Svéd wrote, adding that some of the phone numbers provided were incorrect or unavailable, while the lines that worked were busy and overloaded.

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According to the doctor, the situation in Budapest is particularly burdensome, because the competency of each vaccination point is also often in question.

The summary also mentioned that the order of vaccinations among healthcare professionals did not necessarily reflect the vulnerability of workers.

Unfortunately, these technical problems surrounding the vaccination process are not the only ones that hinder Hungary’s ability to recover from the pandemic.

Although the Chief Medical Officer on Tuesday announced that Hungary now has enough vaccines to inoculate all healthcare staff, many of them remain skeptical. Out of the 120,000 healthcare workers, only about 15,000 have been vaccinated so far. Meanwhile, experts warn that a third coronavirus wave will soon start if the pace of vaccinations does not accelerate.

Featured photo by György Varga/MTI