Zurich’s vaccination rollout has been the slowest in Switzerland, with the canton placed 26th of 26 cantons on a per capita basis.
From April however, three pharmacies in the Zurich city area will start vaccinations as part of a pilot project to boost the canton’s vaccination scheme.
If the pilot project is successful, vaccinations will be rolled out in around 150 pharmacies across the canton in May.
Lorenz Schmid, President of the Swiss Pharmacists’ Association, said that the 150 pharmacies will be able to vaccinate between 80,000 to 100,000 people per month.
To speed up the process further, Zurich pharmacies also plan to vaccinate on Sundays.
Pharmacies are considered to be central to the long-term effectiveness of Zurich’s vaccination scheme.
Once Zurich’s vaccination centres – which are set to open in April – are closed in September and October, vaccinations are expected to be carried out via pharmacies for as long as they are deemed necessary.
Registrations for vaccines in pharmacies are conducted via the same registration scheme as those for the entire canton and will be made available in late March.
Why is Zurich’s vaccination rollout the slowest per capita in Switzerland?
From starting late to receiving fewer doses per population than any other canton – as well as a raft of logistical problems – Zurich’s vaccination rollout has been hampered from the outset.
Zurich started vaccinating on January 4th, almost two weeks after the first Swiss cantons had started administering jabs.
Members of the general public were to be vaccinated from March at large vaccination centres across the canton, however these centres will now only open in April.
Another problem, as flagged by Zurich’s medical boss Nicki Rickli, is the allocation of doses provided to Zurich by the federal government. When these centres hit full stride, an estimated 5,000 to 8,000 people will be vaccinated across the cantons.
According to Rickli, Zurich has received the fewest doses per capita of any Swiss canton due to the age of its population.
“The federal government is responsible for procuring vaccines, we have no influence on that,” she said.
“Measured by the number of inhabitants, we get the least vaccine in Switzerland.
“The federal government says we Zurich have the youngest population.”
Zurich’s size was also a problem in that it was unable to rely on other cantons for extra vaccine doses for people getting their second jab.
As reported in the NZZ, other Swiss cantons have adopted a practice of advancing vaccine doses from their neighbours to administer peoples’ second doses.
Due to Zurich’s size, the number of doses from neighbouring cantons would be too high – meaning that the rollout needed to be delayed.
During this time however, the canton has invested more money in developing a wide-ranging vaccine infrastructure which should allow Zurich to catch up.