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Hungary’s vaccination of those between the ages of 18 and 59 has begun, but people who have no serious condition are also receiving letters of notification. Furthermore, the government has made doctors the ones responsible for picking up vaccines from government offices, and has requested that they work overtime during weekends.

Multiple readers reported to Hvg.hu and Telex stating that they received a letter advising them that they are on the list of people who are chronically ill, despite them not having a chronic illness.

One reader said “my wife is 38 years old, her biggest problem so far has been a common cold.”

No Chronic Illness but Still Received a Letter?

The letter reads “we would like to inform you that the vaccination process has stepped into its next phase. We are now vaccinating our oldest countrymen and citizens under the age of 60 who are especially at risk due to a chronic illness. According to our records you belong to this group, and will soon be giving the opportunity to be vaccinated.”

The letter also states that the exact location and time of vaccination will be provided by the individual’s family doctor. This can complicate things for many people who do not have a family doctor.

A document is also included, which is required to be provided to the vaccinators, and requests to know about the individual’s chronic illness, whether they have been prescribed medicine, are pregnant, or have previously had an anaphylactic reaction to other vaccines.

Independent Hadházy Criticizes Hungary’s Vaccination Process

According to another letter made public by independent MP Ákos Hadházy, family doctors are responsible for picking up their vaccines from government offices. The letter advises doctors to bring cooler bags and ice packs to maintain the temperature of the vaccines provided.

The letter by the Pest county government office reminded doctors that the melted Moderna vaccine lasts for 30 days at a temperature of 2-8 degrees Celsius, and must be used within six hours of being opened.

In a Facebook post on Monday, Hadházy criticized the letter, suggesting instead that it would be much more practical for a government chauffeur to transport the vaccines at the appropriate temperature to clinics, or for the “many soldiers around hospitals” to transport the vaccines instead.

Family doctors told Telex that they do not understand the outrage. According to them, it is completely normal to pick up vaccines in this way, and they have even had their own couriers bring them the vaccines as well as the appropriate syringes.

Even those without couriers saw no problem in having them or their assistance pick up the vaccines from government offices.

This Telex article surprised Hadházy, who said that he still does not consider it right, since he believes that if the government wants mass vaccination, it should ensure that vaccines are effectively transported to clinics.

He does not consider this the most relevant “scandal” in the vaccination approach, but rather that it is only a small example of why the government is incapable of functioning properly.

Hadházy believes it to be a much larger problem that vaccination points are either in closed spaces or are very busy, causing people to be the most at risk of the virus when they are being vaccinated.

Gov’t Gives Further Details

According to the government, family doctors are responsible for informing the patients on their list about when they will be vaccinated, and are also the ones who decide whether the person being vaccinated is eligible or not for inoculation.

The amount of vaccines determines the amount of people who will be vaccinated each week.

The second shot of each vaccine must be administered within less than a month. Sputnik V will be used on elderly people with no chronic illness, and AstraZeneca will be used to inoculate those under the age of 60 with a chronic illness. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines will be used on anyone above 18.

The vaccine is voluntary and can only be administered after the patient has filled out a confirmation form.

The vaccine is not recommended for elderly people with acute undifferentiated fever, severe allergy to any part of the vaccine, history of anaphylactic reaction to medicinal products requiring hospitalization.

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There are also potential reactions to the vaccine, which family doctors will inform their patients about.

Hungary’s Vaccination Process Keeping Clinics Busy

Telex recently discovered another letter from the capital’s government office asking family doctors if they are willing to inoculate people on the weekend too.

The letter did not inform doctors of how many extra hours they would need to work or whether they would receive anything out of it.

Botond Sára, the Government Commissioner in charge of the Budapest Government Office and the president of the Capital’s Vaccination Taskforce, the one responsible for the letter, said that vaccines are arriving in an increasing amount in Hungary, and need to be used on people as soon as possible.

Doctors are required to respond to the letter by noon on Thursday February 18.

Hungary began vaccinations on December 27, 2020. Since then, about 3.4 percent of the country has been vaccinated, with 1.3 percent having received their second shot. 36-38 percent of Hungarians are completely confident that they would get themselves vaccinated.

Normally doctors receive enough vaccines to be used within a day, and do not need to worry about storage, Dr. Anikó Takács told szon.hu.

Takács says she has 2350 patients, but she does not yet know how many of them are registered for vaccination, and that clinics are already busy with the daily 10-20 vaccinations they give people.

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Takács is preparing for the number of available vaccines to increase to the point where clinics need to vaccinate significantly more people per day.

Featured photo illustration by Tamás Vasvári/MTI