With a population of 1.5 million people, almost one in five people who live in Switzerland live in the canton of Zurich.
But despite a relatively centralised population and some of the best access to resources in one of the world’s wealthiest countries, Zurich is lagging behind when it comes to vaccinating its population.
What is the situation in Zurich?
As at February 2nd, 2021, Zurich is vaccinating slower than 21 of Switzerland’s 26 cantons on a per capita basis.
Zurich has vaccinated just 2.99 percent of its residents, which is slower than the Swiss average of 3.64.
Only Bern, Neuchâtel, Aargau and Fribourg are vaccinating slower.
Is this a flaw of Zurich’s vaccine rollout – and how will things run in the future?
What is Zurich’s vaccination strategy?
Cantonal authorities told Watson that the vaccination planning is a “logistical challenge with many unknown variables”.
Zurich started vaccinations on January 4th – more than a week after the first vaccinations started on December 23rd
Zurich started vaccinations at the Institute for Travel Medicine on Hirschengraben, which can carry out 600 vaccinations per day.
According to the canton’s vaccination strategy, which was released in December, after risk groups are prioritised, health workers will get the jab in February.
Members of the general public were to be vaccinated from March at large vaccination centres across the canton, however the NZZ reported in January that this is now likely to start in April.
When these centres hit full stride, an estimated 5,000 to 8,000 people will be vaccinated across the cantons.
Why has the vaccine rollout been delayed?
According to the NZZ, Zurich’s vaccination plan may have been too ambitious.
Zurich wanted to set up six large vaccination centres, however cantonal authorities are still on the lookout for operators.
Medical entities in Zurich have been reluctant to participate, citing low remuneration and a lack of staff.
“We will not apply to operate a vaccination centre,” said Urs Müller, the CEO of Bülach Hospital.
The centres require approximately 100 people daily, which Müller said the hospital does not have.
“If we had so many staff available in the hospital that we could simply assign for other tasks, then we would not run our business very efficiently.”
Operators are paid CHF50 per vaccination, which Müller says is too low for operators to recoup their costs.
“We already have enough to struggle with the financial damage caused by the pandemic,” Müller said.
‘Accelerated with more vaccine’
Cantonal authorities have blamed hold ups in vaccine procurement for the delays rather than organisational hurdles, saying “timetable in the canton of Zurich could only be accelerated with more vaccine.”
By the second last week of January, approximately 24,989 vaccinations were carried out in Zurich.
Delays in delivery however will continue to be felt into February, with 90,000 instead of the promised 113,000 Biontech/Pfizer doses delivered before the end of February.
People can register to be vaccinated in Zurich at the following link.