Bottlenecks in vaccines: “Disaster for vaccination campaign”

Status: 11/30/2021 7:41 am

After the BioNTech vaccine has been rationed, general practitioners complain that there are not enough vaccine doses available. In Freiburg, meanwhile, they are going their own way – and relying on Moderna as a booster vaccine.

As soon as they went online, the appointments were already fully booked. So today it is said to be queuing at the vaccination base at the Freiburg Exhibition Center. And that, although those who want to be vaccinated do not expect the choice on that day, but the very clear message: Today there is “only” Moderna.

“I don’t care what I get,” says Markus Dohinger. “I’ve never asked what kind of vaccine I get and I don’t now either.” Veronika Schwarz stands behind him. “I have confidence in the vaccination. It is important to me that I am boosted.”

The main thing is that it is boosted

Because boosters, that’s what it’s all about at the Freiburg vaccination center. All over 30 year olds can get a booster vaccination here – and the demand is huge. Thorsten Hammer, the head of the Freiburg vaccination base, cannot see any reluctance to use the Moderna vaccine either: the demand is huge, he reports.

Hammer also sees this vaccination campaign as a response to the health minister’s announcement to limit BioNTech deliveries from this week. They therefore looked for alternatives and found them in the Moderna vaccine: “There are enough people who have a completed vaccination schedule with BioNTech,” he says. “You can now boost them with a clear conscience with Moderna, so we are now holding BioNTech back for younger people under 30 so as not to run into capacity bottlenecks.”

The head of the Infection Immunology research group at Charité Berlin, Leif Erik Sander, also emphasizes that both vaccines, BioNTech and Moderna, are to be regarded as equally effective. “Basically, the vaccines are exactly the same, and all of the studies have shown that both work extremely well. If anything, there could be a slight advantage with the Moderna vaccine, which is due to the fact that the dosage is a little higher. “

Increased need for information

Nevertheless, Health Minister Spahn’s announcement that he would be vaccinated more with Moderna from this week on had worried lines appear on the foreheads of many medical professionals. Because since many people would have received their first vaccination with BioNTech, the patients would have an increased need for information. These discussions cost time, says the National Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians.

And time is currently exactly what general practitioners have the least: While they vaccinated just 620,000 patients in calendar week 36, at the beginning of September, it was a total of 1.8 million in calendar week 46, i.e. in mid-November. Numbers that show that the willingness to vaccinate has increased significantly.

This is good news, but one that poses a new problem for the doctors – because they were not prepared for such an onslaught. And so the vaccine is now scarce in the practices.

“We have received announcements from wholesalers that the Moderna will also only be available to a limited extent next week,” complains Dr. Nicola Buhlinger-Göpfarth, who runs a practice in Pforzheim. “Well, we can order like crazy, but we won’t get it. Of course, that is a disaster for our vaccination campaigns. The medical profession has now established itself, has made a lot of appointments, has created structures, and you can almost avoid sabotage speak to the established medical profession. “

Two million cans are missing

The National Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians confirms delivery problems with the vaccines: “About half of the BioNTech / Pfizer orders for this week cannot be fulfilled by the federal government, so that many practices receive less vaccine than they ordered. A total of around two million doses are missing.” At Moderna, the order quantity has risen to almost four million booster cans. Here, too, there could be regional cuts.

In general, the association criticizes that “cutting orders poses massive problems for doctors in private practice, with which their enormously high level of commitment is slowed down without need.”

“So many great promises”

There are different statements about why too little vaccine arrives in the doctor’s office – whether it is due to the logistics or a general shortage of vaccines.

One thing is certain: people are queuing up. Be it in the family doctor’s practice or in front of vaccination centers like in Freiburg. There they inoculated 500 doses of Moderna in the course of the day. In the coming week, the capacity at the vaccination base is to be increased to 3000 vaccinations per day – provided there is enough vaccine available.

The head of the vaccination center does not dare to make a prognosis. “We have received so many promises from various ministries at federal and state level that we will get all the great deliveries,” says Thorsten Hammer. “From the experience of the last ten months, I always only believe in the vaccine when it has arrived at the pharmacy.”

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