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The government has yet again made Hungary’s most popular Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine available for their mass vaccination campaign. Although this time the organization went smoothly, but in some places, especially in Budapest, many vaccination centers had quickly run out of stock, so people had to travel hundreds of kilometers to get the vaccine of their choice.

Last week, nearly 150,000 people in Hungary (mostly those who had already registered for a coronavirus vaccination by early March), received a text message informing them that they can now book an appointment for the Pfizer vaccine as well, alongside the other available Sinopharm, AstraZeneca, and Sputnik V.

The new Pfizer campaign started on Friday, May 14th and will conclude on Tuesday, May 18th.

The government stressed that only those who receive a text message could book an appointment and only those who actually book an appointment will receive the Pfizer vaccine at the hospital vaccination center of their choice.

Pfizer Becomes Accessible to Everyone, Chaos Overwhelms Hungary's Vaccination Program Once Again
Pfizer Becomes Accessible to Everyone, Chaos Overwhelms Hungary's Vaccination Program Once Again

Friday’s vaccinations turned chaotic following Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s statement that Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines would finally be accessible to everyone on Friday, and Friday alone, since afterwards it would not be available for weeks. The vaccine registry database was overwhelmed and crashed early in the morning, likely due to thousands of people wanting to be vaccinated […]Continue reading

Although the new campaign was well-organized, many still had to overcome serious problems to get their Covid shot.

Several readers of news site Telex reported that they could only book an appointment at a vaccination center hundreds of kilometers from their home when signing up for a Pfizer vaccine.

One Budapest resident could not even register for vaccination centers in Pest County, let alone within close proximity.

Another Budapest resident who registered for the vaccination in April, by the time a text message was received, could not book an appointment in Budapest because everything was booked for the following three days.

Some other people had to travel from the capital city as far as the town of Cegléd (80 km from Budapest) or Békés County to get the Pfizer vaccine.

The news site also reported two siblings who received a text message on Saturday but were also unable to register for an appointment in Budapest. They found the earliest in Cegléd for Sunday afternoon. Their father, who received the text message later that day, could only secure an appointment for Wednesday in Gödöllő.

The last time the Pfizer vaccination campaign encountered difficulties was at the end of April, after the government announced that the vaccine would be accessible to anyone for only a day. The vaccine registry database was overwhelmed and crashed early in the morning, while Hungarians around the country, both registered and non-registered, ended up waiting in lines at vaccination centers hundreds of meters long.

Also, in early March the government canceled the previously announced AstraZeneca vaccinations for those with chronic illnesses due to what they referred to as “synchronization problems.” Despite this, many people still showed up to their clinics and were inoculated. Also, some people with chronic illness had to travel hundreds of kilometers from their homes to receive the vaccine.

Featured photo illustration by Zoltán Máthé/MTI