EXPLAINED: Five questions about Covid-19 vaccines in Switzerland
Coronavirus vaccinations are underway in most Swiss cantons, with other regions scheduled to begin the rollout before the end of January. Here we answer some of your questions about this process.
A lot has been written about the logistics and other matters related to the Covid-19 vaccinations in Switzerland.
The Local tries to keep our readers informed and updated on all the new developments.
How can you register for the vaccine and how long will you wait for an appointment?
The vaccination programme is managed by the cantons. Each canton has its own system for signing up online, which includes a questionnaire or a form that determines whether you are eligible for a vaccine on a priority basis or must await you turn.
First to be immunised are people over 75 years of age, essential healthcare workers, residents and employees of elderly care homes, and those suffering from serious chronic illnesses.
How long you wait for an appointment depends on how many doses of the vaccine your canton has at its disposal and how it is handling all the logistics.
However, health authorities said the inoculaton process should be finished within the first six months of the year.
Do you have to get vaccinated in your canton of residence, or are you free to do it anywhere in Switzerland?
You can get the shot anywhere, the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) says.
But keep in mind that the vaccine is given in two doses, three to four weeks apart. As soon as you get your first shot, the second dose will be reserved for you, and both should be administered in the same place.
So wherever you choose to get the first dose, the second one should be given there as well.
Are the vaccines available to residents only, or can cross-border workers also get inoculated in Switzerland?
Cross-border workers covered by Swiss health insurance can be vaccinated in Switzerland, according to FOPH.
Also those who don’t have Swiss insurance coverage but are employed in the healthcare sector where they are in direct contact with patients, can get their shots in Switzerland.
But those who don’t fall under either of the two categories, should be vaccinated in their countries.
Foreign nationals living in Switzerland can also get a vaccine on the same terms as Swiss nationals, meaning it will be free of charge.
Can you choose which Covid-19 vaccine to take?
As The Local wrote on January 11th, this is not an option.
The government purchased 13 million doses of Covid vaccine from three manufacturers — Pfizer (3 million doses), Moderna (4.5 million) and AstraZeneca (5.3 million).
But you have no choice of the product.
"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.
What proof of vaccination will you get?
Once you receive your doses, you will be given a signed vaccination certificate, which specifies, among other things, which vaccine was administered — the trade name, manufacturer, and batch number.
This information will be entered into the myCOVIDvac electronic vaccination record. But this step is voluntary and will be done only if you give your consent.
There are numerous advantages to having your vaccination record stores electronically:
- Important information about your COVID-19 vaccination (name of vaccine received, dates of vaccinations, etc.) is stored securely in Switzerland. You alone determine who may access your protected data.
- Your e-vaccination record cannot be lost.
- The e-vaccination record can be accessed online at any time and anywhere in the world if necessary.
- You will be automatically notified at the time of the second vaccine dose - and also if a later booster is needed.
- You can share the information with your doctors and pharmacists if you wish.
- Should an international COVID-19 vaccination certificate be required at a later date, the stored information would serve as the basis for an international vaccination certificate.
But if you choose not to have a digital document, you can have the vaccination recorded in in paper format.