Lack of interest in COVID-19 vaccines may trigger shutdown of vaccination centers

The lack of interest in getting the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine in smaller Szekler settlements could lead to the closure of vaccination centers in these areas, the director of Public Health Directorate of Harghita County Gyöngyi Tarr told Hungarian news outlet Székelyhon.

Although the number of vaccinated people in the county is on the rise, Szeklers seem to prefer getting their COVID-19 shot in vaccination centers  in bigger cities, leaving the ones in Vlăhița/Vlahita and Balánbánya/Bălan almost without work.

If this trend continues, these vaccination centers will be closed, as it is a waste of taxpayer’s money to pay the salary of four or five healthcare workers to vaccinate a handful of people, Tarr said. This week, however, staff will deliver plenty of COVID-19 shots, as educators are getting vaccinated. They have been scheduled to visit the nearest vaccination center to receive the COVID-19 vaccine recommended for their age group.

Still, if this wave ends and the lack of interest remains among Szeklers between 18 and 55 years old – the age group recommended for the AstraZeneca COVID-19 shot – then we will likely see a new wave of vaccine tourism: People from other counties looking to get their shot will make an appointment at these centers, leaving the inhabitants populating that area without the opportunity to get vaccinated against the virus that has brought the whole world to its knees.

Tarr also highlighted the fact that there is no need to wait for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine because the AstraZeneca one provides the same level of protection as the others. If they do not get their COVID-19 shot now, they will have to wait months.

Now is the best time to reach a good inoculation level in Harghita County, because there are plenty of shots available, and centers have been set up to cover all areas, Tarr said. The current vaccination level in Harghita County mostly matches the national level, but if it doesn’t grow, it will provide fertile ground for COVID-19 to spike again, she added.

Title image: The AstraZeneca vaccine. Image source: G4Media

Author: István Fekete