‘Unrealistic’: Is Switzerland’s vaccination scheme set for further delays?

The Swiss government promised everyone would be vaccinated by June - but several cantonal doctors are now saying the end of autumn is a more realistic date.

'Unrealistic': Is Switzerland’s vaccination scheme set for further delays?

When Switzerland announced its vaccination plan, one message was made clear: anyone who wanted to be vaccinated in Switzerland would get a jab before the end of June. 

This date is however now in serious doubt, with some cantonal experts indicating vaccinations are set to run well into autumn, reports Switzerland’s NZZ newspaper

READ MORE: How can I get vaccinated for Covid-19 in Switzerland? 

Their concerns appear to be borne out, with the Federal Office of Public Health’s Virginie Masserey on Tuesday appearing to offer a more cautious approach. 

After months of reaffirming that the end of June remained the expected date to have vaccinations carried out, Masserey told the media that the end of summer was a more realistic deadline. 

What is the current situation? 

Vaccinations started in December, but the country’s vaccination scheme has experienced delays due to delivery problems, primarily with the Pfizer-Biontech vaccine, and competition due to demand in other countries

Switzerland’s decision not to approve the AstraZeneca vaccine also put additional pressure on other manufacturers to make up the shortfall. 

READ MORE: Will Switzerland’s rejection of the AstraZeneca vaccine delay vaccinations? 

What are cantonal doctors saying?

The chief cantonal doctor, Rudolf Hauri, told Switzerland’s SRF media outlet that vaccinations for the general public were unlikely to be completed until the end of autumn. 

This was not only due to delivery delays, but problems with the existing vaccination framework. 

“Even if large quantities of vaccines arrive, they cannot simply be inoculated faster than the infrastructure allows,” Hauri said. 

Cantonal doctor Marina Jamnicki, from Graubünden, disagreed with Hauri’s assertion that infrastructure was the problem, arguing cantonal authorities have struggled to tailor and change their infrastructure to reflect fluctuations in deliveries. 

“The canton of Graubünden is constantly adjusting capacities to the delivery quantities.”

Jamnicki however agreed that she cannot see more than 60 or 70 percent of the population being vaccinated before the end of autumn. 

The NZZ reported on Wednesday that a major issue was guaranteeing the security of the vaccine, given that the Pfizer-Biontech and Moderna varieties need to be kept below -60 degrees celsius. 

Which cantons are well-equipped – and which are not? 

As with almost everything in Switzerland, there are large differences between the cantons when it comes to vaccine infrastructure and approaches. 

Zurich, Jura and Appenzeller Inneroden have said their vaccination logistics is established and ready. 

All vaccinations can be carried out by the end of summer – provided enough are delivered. 

In Fribourg however, authorities believe they will not be able to stick to a summer deadline – even if supply increases dramatically in May. 

“If we can only work at full speed in May, it will be too late to vaccinate everyone who wants to by the end of June.”

UPDATED: Which Swiss cantons are vaccinating fastest against coronavirus?

Officials in Thurgau said the major problem was the government’s promises about vaccinations which created high expectations. 

“Expectations have been created that cannot be fulfilled with the current quantities of vaccines. This provokes a lot of strife in the population,” said Thurgau health director Urs Martin told the NZZ. 

Martin said the canton had been receiving thousands of calls each week about the vaccination scheme – 95 percent of which have been critical. 

What role are the mutations playing?

Bern cantonal doctor Linda Nartey said the spread of the mutations is playing a role in the delays. 

“Now the Brazilian and South African variants are causing us more worries and more work,” Nartey said. 

More than 6,000 infections of a mutated form of coronavirus have now been detected in Switzerland.

According to official government figures, 2,381 of those mutations are of the British variant, along with 96 of the South African variant.

Three cases of the Brazilian variant have been detected in Switzerland. A further 3,526 are of an “unknown origin” according to the Swiss government.

READ MORE: Which cantons are Switzerland’s coronavirus mutation hotspots? 

Member comments

  1. Thank you for the helpful update. Please keep them coming!

    Wish they would allow access to the AstraZeneca vaccine, millions of doses have been given in the UK and expect there would be plenty of volunteers in Switzerland that would take the risk (myself included!).

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Masks, tests and jabs: Can I deduct Covid-related costs from my taxes in Switzerland?

Switzerland’s tax deadline is just around the corner. Are Covid-related costs tax deductible?

Masks, tests and jabs: Can I deduct Covid-related costs from my taxes in Switzerland?

March 31st is the deadline for filing taxes in Switzerland relating to the 2021 financial year. 

Over the past two years, the Covid pandemic has seen a change in our spending habits. 

While we may have saved on restaurants and travel, we laid out considerable costs on a range of new expenses, including disinfectant, masks and Covid tests. 

As some of these costs are required by law, can they be deducted from your tax?

In some cases, expenses directly related to the Covid pandemic can be deducted. 

Masks, for instance, can be deducted as medical expenses in some cantons, Swiss tax specialist Markus Stoll told 20 Minutes

This depends on the specific framework for tax deductions related to medical expenses in that canton. 

EXPLAINED: What can I deduct from my tax bill in Switzerland?

Generally speaking, any medical costs paid out of pocket can be deducted. However, most cantons impose a minimum percentage limit from which these costs can be deducted. 

In many cantons, this will start at five percent of your yearly income in total (i.e. including other out-of-pocket costs like dental or specialist visits), meaning you would need to purchase a significant amount of masks to beat the threshold. 

What about testing and vaccination?

Testing and vaccinations however were largely free as their costs were covered by the Swiss government, which means associated expenses cannot be deducted. 

Those tests which were not covered by the government – for instance for travel abroad or for visiting clubs – cannot be deducted, Stoll says. 

“Tests for travel abroad or to visit clubs are not deductible” Stoll said. 

For a complete overview of taxation in Switzerland, including several specific guides, please check out our tax-specific page here.