Preparations for the distribution of the covid-19 vaccine are taking a very definite shape in Germany. The idea is that when the vaccine arrives, everything is ready to start a phased plan to provide it to the population gradually. “The aim is to make safe vaccines available in sufficient quantities as soon as possible,” reads the preamble to the German national covid-19 vaccination plan , which occupies 15 pages and which details which actor is responsible for each phase of production , distribution and application of vaccines.

The agreement between the federal government and the länder – the 16 states that are part of Germany – two weeks ago indicates that the Executive will finance and supply the vaccines and the regions will be in charge of the vaccination centers. The Army may provide support during transportation and storage.

The German strategy, whose general lines were presented at the end of October and little by little is being completed, starts from the premise that at first, there will be no vaccines for the entire population and will have to prioritize. German Chancellor Angela Merkel recently indicated that in general terms, “nurses, doctors and people who belong to risk groups” will be a priority. To be vaccinated or not, will in any case be voluntary. Merkel considered that until between 60% and 70% of the population is not immunized, – either because they have overcome the disease or have been vaccinated – the virus will not have been defeated and the restrictions will have to be maintained.

German Health Minister Jens Spahn recently estimated that around 40% of Germans are “at risk” in this pandemic. About 23 million Germans are over 60 years old. You have to add all kinds of people with previous illnesses. “We are a prosperous country with its corresponding diseases: diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure …” were some of the risk factors mentioned by Spahn.

The vaccination plan is divided into two major phases. The first, in which the most vulnerable people with a high exposure to the virus, such as health workers, will be vaccinated, and then the rest. This first phase, the distribution will take place in about 60 large sites and with mobile units to serve people who cannot move. Once there are enough doses and infrastructure to maintain the cold chain, the second phase will proceed, in which the injection will be available in primary care clinics.

The German ethics council, the Leopoldina Academy of Sciences and the vaccination commission of the Robert Koch institute last week presented their recommendations on which the Government and the Länder will act . Together with the health aspects, they highlight the need to take into account the ethical, legal and logistical aspects of the operation. Together with the people considered at risk, the experts proposed that a third priority group be those whose profession is especially relevant to the functioning of society, such as the authorities of public health offices, police, teachers or firefighters.

A volunteer received the vaccine from US company Pfizer and Germany's BioNTech in Ankara in October.
A volunteer received the vaccine from America’s Pfizer and Germany’s BioNTech in Ankara in October. ANADOLU AGENCY / ANADOLU AGENCY VIA GETTY IMAGES

Beyond the general lines, the 16 federal states and the Government have outlined how and where the doses will be distributed and who will finance each phase of the process. Each State will receive a number of doses in relation to the size of its population, as set out in the text of the national vaccination strategy, as well as in the agreement of the regional Health Ministers with the federal ministry. The vaccine will be transferred by the companies themselves or by the Army.

The federal government will be in charge of paying for vaccines and will also participate in the financing of vaccination centers and mobile units that will travel, for example, to nursing homes. Each land will have to set up vaccination centers, beyond the distribution points, taking into account the requirements for storing vaccines at low temperatures. The necessary equipment for the injection, such as syringes, cannulas or disinfectant, is also at your expense. A centralized database will record immunizations and information regarding possible side effects. The weekly Der Spiegel assured this Friday that several Länder will have their centers ready in mid-December.

Six centers for Berlin

Last Tuesday, for example, the Government of the city-state of Berlin presented its vaccination distribution plan, according to which there will be six large centers distributed throughout the city. A velodrome, an airport hangar or a stadium are some of the designated places to start vaccinating, possibly next month, depending on the final date of approval of the injection. The regional Minister of Health, Dilek Kalayci, indicated that the city-state of Berlin is preparing to distribute 900,000 doses in a first delivery. That means that 450,000 people can be vaccinated with the double dose 21 days apart. They estimate that they can administer about 20,000 vaccinations a day. People over 75 years of age, plus those hospitalized, health and nursing home staff make up the priority population groups in the capital. “Of course it is important to have all the necessary accessories. We have already ordered freezers to store the vaccines, each with a capacity of 828 liters and they will be delivered soon, ”Kalayci said.

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