Reader question: Can you choose which Covid-19 vaccine to take in Switzerland?

Reader question: Can you choose which Covid-19 vaccine to take in Switzerland?
The Moderna vaccine will soon be available in Switzerland. Photo by AFP
There are currently two vaccines being administered in Switzerland, with more on the way. Is it possible to choose which jab you take?

So far only two types of coronavirus vaccine is available in Switzerland: the jab from Moderna and that from Pfizer/BioNtech. 

As at April 1st, Switzerland has purchased 5.3 million doses of AstraZeneca but has not approved it, while the Johnson and Johnson vaccine has been approved but the Swiss government has not agreed to purchase any doses

In total, Switzerland has ordered 35 million coronavirus vaccine doses for a population of 8.5 million, from five different manufacturers. 

To date, Swiss authorities have contracted with five vaccine manufacturers: Moderna (13.5 million doses), Pfizer/BioNTech (6 million), AstraZeneca (5.3 million), and most recently Curevac (5 million) and Novavax (6 million).

READ MORE: Why has Switzerland ordered over 35 million doses of coronavirus vaccine?

Do you have the right to choose which one you want?

The answer is no, nobody in Switzerland has the right to choose which vaccine they receive. 

As reported by The Local Switzerland journalist Helena Bachmann when she received her first shot in February in the canton of Vaud, you are only told at the last moment which vaccine you are set to receive. 

Reader question: How does the actual vaccine process work in Switzerland?

Unlike in some other countries, information as to which vaccines are given out at which vaccination centres is not made public – meaning you cannot choose a particular centre on the basis of the vaccines that are available. 

Will this change? 

The status quo will stay in place at least in the immediate future, when the focus will be on inoculating as many vulnerable people as possible.

“It is assumed that the vaccines will be equivalent in terms of efficacy and safety, so it is the availability of the vaccine that will be decisive”, said Virginie Masserey, head of FOPH’s infection control unit.

On the other hand, if differences between the vaccines should be discovered, the Federal Immunisation Commission will make recommendations about which vaccine is more appropriate for which age group, she noted.

“The choice will be made by a doctor or cantonal health authorities, not patients”, Masserey said.

Also, one vaccine is not necessarily better than the other.

“When you look at one or the other of these vaccine technologies, I believe that they are equal”, Alessandro Diana, expert at Infovac, Switzerland’s vaccine information platform, told RTS broadcaster.

Even when all three vaccines become available and the supply will be more substantial, the choice of the product will likely not be offered. 

“It is assumed that the vaccines will be equivalent in terms of efficacy and safety, so it is the availability of the vaccine that will be decisive”, said Virginie Masserey, head of FOPH’s infection control unit.

On the other hand, if differences between the vaccines should be discovered, the Federal Immunisation Commission will make recommendations about which vaccine is more appropriate for which age group, she noted.

“The choice will be made by a doctor or cantonal health authorities, not patients”, Masserey said.

“It’s like all other vaccines. When you want to be vaccinated against the flu, you don’t choose which vaccine to take, you get the one your doctor has at his disposal”, she added.

Some of the cantons have already started vaccinating their at-risk populations the last week of December, with others beginning on January 4th and continuing from January 11th onward. 

Although some MPs and other officials have complained that the inoculation process “is too slow and inefficient”, authorities say they expect everyone who wants the jab to be vaccinated by the summer.

READ MORE: Switzerland promises everyone will be vaccinated by summer 

 


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