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Switzerland tells cantons to use up their vaccine reserves

Switzerland tells cantons to use up their vaccine reserves
Moderna is one of the two vaccines delivered to Switzerland. The other is from Pfizer/Biontech. Photo by Steve Parsons / POOL / AFP
As Switzerland is expecting the delivery of millions of vaccines in May, federal authorities have told cantons to dip into their "second dose" reserves to speed up the pace of inoculations.

The country’s vaccination programme has been beset by late deliveries leading to supply shortages.

These problems put into doubt the government’s prediction that anyone who wanted to be vaccinated would get a jab by summer.

Now, however, it seems that the vaccinations are getting back on track, as Switzerland will receive at least 8 million doses of the Pfizer/Biontech and Moderna vaccines between now and the end of July.

From May, delivery volumes are expected to increase significantly, the Federal Department of Home Affairs (FDHA) announced in a press release on Thursday.

Cantonal health authorities will now use up their remaining vaccines, which they have kept in reserve to ensure there are enough doses to guarantee second jabs.

“The cantons can now draw on their vaccine reserves until the end of April. The second dose will be guaranteed thanks to future deliveries”, FDHA said.

This strategy will allow all cantons, including those that have been lagging behind, “to speed up the pace of vaccinations and to extend the opportunity to be vaccinated quicker to more age groups”.

With more vaccines and stepped up pace “it is now realistic to offer everyone who wants it at least a first dose by the end of June”, FDHA added.

READ MORE: ‘Stingy’: Why some Swiss GPs are not carrying out Covid vaccinations

As this map from the Federal Office of Public Health shows, the cantons that have administered the fewest doses are Zurich, Schwyz and Nidwalden, while Geneva, Neuchâtel, and Uri are Swiss leaders.

On April 11th, the day this most recent data was generated, cantons had about 485,000 doses in reserve, which will now be released for use.

How will cantons catch up on delayed vaccinations?

Switzerland’s largest cities are setting up vaccination units in big venues where inoculations can be given to thousands of people every day.

One such centre is the enormous Zurich Exhibition Hall, which can administer 4,000 shots daily.

Another is in Basel’s equally large exhibition centre, which also has the capacity to handle thousands of vaccines each day.

And from April 19th, Geneva will vaccinate on the grounds of its huge Palexpo centre, which will offer a potential injection capacity of 4,000 doses per day.

READ MORE: How Switzerland is speeding up its vaccination programme

In all, the government ordered 13.5 million doses of Moderna vaccine, 6 million each of Pfizer / Biontech and Novavax, and 5 million of Curevac.

So far, only the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines are being administered in Switzerland. 


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