Covid booster jabs unlikely to arrive in most Swiss cantons until 2022

A person receives a jab against Covid-19
Switzerland is under fire for its lagging booster shot campaign. Photo by Gustavo Fring from Pexels
Covid boosters for the general population will likely be delayed until 2022, with most cantons unprepared to administer shots.

Infrastructure problems and a lack of skilled workers mean that members of the general population waiting for booster shots will likely need to hold off until 2022. 

READ MORE: Will Switzerland hold a referendum on compulsory Covid vaccination?

Booster shots were rolled out for people in risk groups from November 15th, including those over the age of 65 and people with chronic conditions. 

Despite indications last week that booster jabs for everyone aged 12 and over could be approved as early as the end of November, authorities in most cantons are not ready. 

READ MORE: Switzerland set to approve booster shots for all amid surge in infections

Federal authorities are responsible for approving booster vaccines, but they are administered at a cantonal level. This could mean that the approval is delayed, so cantons will have time to get ready. 

Switzerland’s Tages Anzeiger reports authorities in several large cantons – including Zurich, Basel, Bern and Lucerne – have minimised or disassembled the infrastructure set up in the summer for the country’s widespread vaccination campaign. 

Authorities in Geneva told news outlet Watson they were unconcerned about the potential delay, given that boosters are only recommended more than six months since the previous shot – and that most people in the western Swiss canton were vaccinated in July 2021. 

UPDATED: How can I get my Covid booster shot in Switzerland?

Some smaller cantons like Thurgau and Apppenzell Ausserhoden on the other hand have said they are ready to go, but will hold off and wait for federal approval before starting the booster campaigns

Vaud also indicated they were ready to go whenever the approval comes through

The newspaper reports staff responsible for administering vaccines have been transferred to other departments, while temporary members of the workforce have been moved on. 

Demand for booster vaccinations in Switzerland has been growing, particularly as similar campaigns have been underway for some time in neighbouring countries. 

READ MORE: Can Swiss get a booster vaccination in Germany?

Several other countries have opened up booster shots to the general population, including Austria, Norway, Germany, France, Italy and England. 

Information from Israel shows booster vaccinations provide significant protection against the virus. 

Thomas Steffen, who sits on the board of the Association of Cantonal Doctors, told Swiss news outlet 20 Minutes that boosters “undoubtedly help to reduce the burden of illness and thus also the burden on hospitals.”

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