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Hungary’s vaccination rate is one of the best in the world, half of the Hungarian population has been vaccinated at least once. Unfortunately, vaccinations are slowing down, and we are not where we expected to be at this point. Previously the government set seven million vaccinations as the goal, but now that milestone has been lowered to six million. Not only are there a large number of people who do not want to get vaccinated at all, many registered individuals are postponing their inoculations.

According to the Hungarian Central Statistical Office (KSH), roughly 1.5 million adults (18 percent of the population) in Hungary do not want to accept any kind of vaccine. To achieve herd immunity, Hungary would need at least 75-85 percent of its population to be vaccinated.

PM Orbán Overestimates Hungary’s Vaccinations

At the beginning of April, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán estimated that Hungary would reach six million vaccinations by mid-May, and seven million by the third week of May. This would have been great, but now at the end of the month, Hungary stands far from both these goals at five million 56 thousand first vaccinations.

Orbán: Hungary's Vaccination Campaign Among World's Best
Orbán: Hungary's Vaccination Campaign Among World's Best

150,000 adults will be able to get the Pfizer vaccine every week, PM Orbán said.Continue reading

The prime minister’s vaccination estimates were accurate for four million vaccinations by the end of April, but then the vaccination program slowed down. There are plenty of vaccines available, but the remaining people who are not vaccinated appear unwilling to do so.

Fact

These two graphs depict the state of the Hungarian vaccination plan. The upper graph shows second inoculations in blue, first inoculations in turquoise, and registrations in the darkest gray. The lighter gray shows the vaccination program’s vaccination goal, and the lightest gray shows Hungary’s total population.

The lower graph shows the total number of administered doses in turquoise, authorized vaccines in light turquoise, doses necessary for registered individuals in dark gray, and doses required for Hungary’s total population in the lightest gray.

By the middle of May, the goal was reduced to six million, which Orbán said “is completely up to the people alone, therefore it is their individual decision and responsibility to accept vaccination.”

Significantly Less People Registering

There are also significantly fewer registrations for vaccination compared to the initial traffic that the National eHealth Infrastructure (EESZT) website had. Orbán said “5-10 thousand people register every day; this is significantly less than what it was earlier.”

Vaccination Pace Recedes as People Wait for Pfizer
Vaccination Pace Recedes as People Wait for Pfizer

February was the last time when Hungary administered as few vaccines as in the past week, with a total of 224,000.Continue reading

The 3 million people who are not yet vaccinated pose a risk too, the prime minister said,

Therefore, I ask everyone, especially these three million people, to take this situation seriously, and if there is one approach to it, if they can defeat their inner resistance, (…) or if they listened to the anti-vaccination opposition, they should put this aside. They should go now and get vaccinated, because in an epidemic three million unvaccinated people still pose a risk.”

However, the opposition parties have very little to do with the slackening registration willingness. Although some parties only wanted to use vaccines with EMA authorization in Hungary, there are currently multiple different vaccines in the country, including hundreds of thousands of Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine doses, which proved to be the most popular. The multitude of options proves that everyone can choose whatever vaccine they want and be inoculated in a few days, if not on the day of their registration.

Hungary Spends 16 Billion Forint Promoting Vaccination

The stagnation is strange, since 16 billion forint (EUR 46 Million) was invested into the government’s vaccination promotion campaign at the beginning of the month, but there have been no significant results.

Campaign Launched to Encourage Vaccination Among Roma in Hungary
Campaign Launched to Encourage Vaccination Among Roma in Hungary

The coronavirus pandemic has shed light on the vulnerabilities of segregated communities, in particular the Romani minority group within Hungary.Continue reading

Poland announced a million złoty (EUR 223 thousand) lottery for everyone who gets vaccinated, and Serbia is offering citizens 25 euros to get vaccinated, but Hungarian officials have stressed that it is about enough that the vaccine is free and protects the individual.

Minister of the Prime Minister’s Office Gergely Gulyás said that “perhaps five and a half, if we are very optimistic, we could even reach six million vaccinations.”

Gov't Won't Offer Cash For Getting Vaccinated Despite Slowing Covid Vaccination Rate
Gov't Won't Offer Cash For Getting Vaccinated Despite Slowing Covid Vaccination Rate

The government believes that the immunity certificate, which offers various privileges to the inoculated, provides enough incentive.Continue reading

Gulyás stated that the government estimates, once there is a difference of half a million people between registered and vaccinated for the first time, that that around 200 thousand more people will certainly get vaccinated at some point.

Hungarians Avoiding Second Vaccinations

Unvaccinated people are not the only ones not being vaccinated. More than 1.5 million vaccinated Hungarians have not received their second inoculation, and according to 24.hu, tens of thousands of these people simple do not want their second vaccination.

Experts Slam Gov't for Opting Out of Next Phase of EU Vaccine Procurement
Experts Slam Gov't for Opting Out of Next Phase of EU Vaccine Procurement

Hungary is the only European Union country that has decided to not take part in the next phase of vaccine procurement organized by the EU.Continue reading

These people allegedly feel this way either because they already have their immunity certificate, because they felt that the side effects were too severe, or because they fell ill before the second dose would have been effective. It may be a problem that benefits are already provided after first vaccinations, since this does not guarantee full immunity, especially if the individual chooses not to be vaccinated a second time

Plenty of Vaccines Available in Hungary

Even in the dwindling vaccination rate of last week, the vast majority of first vaccinations (257 thousand) occurred with Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccine. 30 thousand occurred with Moderna, 28 thousand with Janssen, 24 thousand with Sinopharm, and 20 thousand with Sputnik V. 2,300 AstraZeneca doses were administered, primarily for second inoculations.

Despite having imported 4 million 500 thousand doses of Sinopharm, there have only been 1.5 million inoculations, while 3.3 of the 3.5 million imported Pfizer doses were administered.

Health Professionals: All of Hungary's Vaccines Are Effective!
Health Professionals: All of Hungary's Vaccines Are Effective!

Professors, virologists, and virus researchers around Hungary continue to emphasize it; all vaccines authorized in Hungary are effective. Chief infectologist of the South Pest Hospital Centre, virologist János Szlávik sat down with Hungary Today at the beginning of the year to discuss vaccination and the race against the coronavirus. Chief Infectologist: Herd Immunity Needed Szlávik […]Continue reading

There are roughly half a million registered individuals who have not yet been vaccinated. Considering that every kind of vaccine is available now, their reasoning is likely that they are waiting for an offer of a type that they prefer, that there are no more available vaccination times, or that they are simply choosing to be vaccinated later.

Featured photo illustration by Attila Balázs/MTI