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SWITZERLAND

Will residents in Switzerland be allowed to go to Germany for Covid-19 vaccination?

Germany wants to start vaccinating against coronavirus from mid-December, while the rollout in Switzerland is not expected until the end of January. Will people be able to cross the border to get the jab?

Will residents in Switzerland be allowed to go to Germany for Covid-19 vaccination?
You can go shopping in Germany, but nit to be vaccinated. Photo by AFP

German Health Minister Jens Spahn said that he plans to start the first vaccinations in his country from December 15th, about six weeks before the earliest vaccines in Switzerland. 

So can those living close to the Swiss-German border simply drive to Germany and get vaccinated?

The answer is ‘nein’.

Claudia Krüger, spokesperson for the Ministry of Social Affairs in Baden-Württemberg, the German state near the Swiss border, said that “the place of residence is a decisive factor for the vaccination”.

The only exception would be any Swiss residents who work in hospitals and nursing homes in Baden-Württemberg, she added.

However, the fact that a coronavirus vaccine will be available in Germany earlier than in Switzerland doesn’t mean that hordes of Swiss residents will be queuing up at the border to get the shot.

According to a new survey of 16,727 people carried out by Swiss public broadcaster SRF, only 21 percent of the respondents said they would go to another country to get vaccinated.

More than a half — 56 percent — said they wouldn’t cross the border, while 23 percent stated that they wouldn’t get vaccinated at all.

READ MORE: Covid-19 vaccine may be ready in Switzerland sooner than predicted 

While originally scheduled to be rolled out in Switzerland in the spring of 2021, the Covid vaccine will likely be ready at the end of January, Health Minister Alain Berset said on Thursday.

The elderly and those suffering from serious chronic illnesses will be the first to be vaccinated, while the general public will be offered immunisations at a later date, he said.

The Health Minister also noted that the government is planning to offer the vaccine for free to anyone who wants it, and there will not be a general mandate to get immunised, with the possible exception of those who work in the healthcare sector and elderly care homes.


 

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COVID-19 VACCINES

Switzerland to start dual-strain Covid boosters in October

The long-awaited second booster shots will be rolled in Switzerland from October 10th, the Health Ministry announced on Friday.

Switzerland to start dual-strain Covid boosters in October

Less than two weeks after drug regulator Swissmedic approved the new version of the Moderna vaccine, which should better target certain sub-variants of Omicron, the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) said on Friday the shots will be available to some groups of the population from October 10th.

“The vaccination recommendation for autumn 2022 aims primarily to protect vulnerable people against a severe form of the disease. On the one hand, people aged 65 or over, and on the other hand, those aged 16 to 64 with an increased risk, for example due to a pre-existing disease or pregnancy”; FOPH said in a statement on Friday.

After that, those “aged 16 to 64, without risk factors and who work in acute and long-term care, or who care for vulnerable people in a professional or private capacity” will be eligible for the shots, FOPH said.Health officials noted that while the number of Covid infection is currently “relatively low, an increase in transmissions of the virus is expected from the fall of 2022. The risk of contracting Covid-19 and the burden for the health system could therefore increase again”.

It added, however, that “the situation differs markedly from that of the last two winters; currently, 97 percent of the population have antibodies against Covid following vaccination or recovery. “People without risk factors are unlikely to develop severe symptoms this fall”.

Dual-strain vaccine

In recent trials, the new Moderna vaccine demonstrated “higher antibody concentrations against the Omicron variants” than the manufacturer’s original Covid vaccine, Swissmedic said.

The previous vaccine was effective against early strains, like Alpha and Delta, offering no immunity against Omicron or its sub-variants, which are currently responsible for all the coronavirus infections detected in Switzerland.

“Compared to the original vaccine, trials have shown that this [vaccine] produces a stronger immune response against the Omicron variants BA.1 and BA.4/5″, Swissmedic said, adding that the new vaccine remains as effective as its predecessor against the original Covid viruses.

Additionally, “a careful review of the application documents submitted on an ongoing basis showed that the vaccine meets the safety, efficacy and quality requirements », the agency noted.

Also, in terms of secondary effects, they are expected to be “similar” to those following administration of the second dose and the first the booster of the original vaccine: fever, muscle pains, and headaches.

According to FOPH, “the bivalent mRNA vaccines, which are tailored to the Omicron BA.1 variant, should be preferred for booster vaccination. However, it is still possible to use the current monovalent mRNA vaccine”.

Additionally, protein-based Nuvaxovid doses will also be available.

READ MORE: BREAKING: Switzerland approves new Covid-19 boosters
 
 

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