Doctors’ practices are expecting a rush on demand for COVID-19 vaccines as Germany prepares to lift its vaccine priority list, the national physicians’ body said on Saturday.
Andreas Gassen, president of the National Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians, said he expected a “rush to practices” and appealed to people to “be patient” and to “not harass doctors and their teams.”
“Everyone will be vaccinated – and that as quickly as possible. But not all at once!” Gassen told the German newspaper Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung.
Germany is set to remove its priority limits on who can receive a coronavirus vaccine on June 7.
Before, only people listed as priority groups were eligible to receive most vaccines. Priorities were ranked by age, medical conditions and profession.
But doctors have appealed for continued patience as people wait for an appointment at vaccine centers, doctors’ surgeries and company doctors.
Although volumes are steadily increasing, vaccine supply is still too scarce, they warned.
“Especially at this point in time, it is therefore counterproductive for the Federal Ministry of Health to withhold more than one million doses of Biontech back, supposedly for second vaccinations,” Gassen criticized.
Children aged 12-16 will also be able to receive their first shot of a COVID vaccine from Monday.
‘A matter of weeks’
Dirk Heinrich, the head of the Virchowbund federation of licensed physicians, said many people in Germany are under the false impression that they can be vaccinated immediately.
“There are still too few vaccines in practices. Therefore, we have to ask our patients for patience,” Heinrich told the newspaper, adding that “it is now only a matter of weeks, not months” until all those willing to be vaccinated would receive an offer.
Heinrich suggested that at least in vaccination centers, prioritization should be maintained as not enough people in priority group three have been vaccinated.
Germany recorded 3,165 new coronavirus infections over the previous 24 hours, according to data released on Friday by the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), the federal government agency for disease control and prevention. A week ago, the figure stood at 7,380 new COVID-19 infections.
The total number of coronavirus cases in Germany has continued to fall following an extended lockdown and the roll-out of its vaccination campaign.
mvb/rc (dpa, EPD)