After the fiasco with the current organisation of vaccination, Germany is also switching to a system that was established in Slovenia from the very beginning. Namely, the German experts finally proposed the following solution: general practitioners should also be vaccinating their patients. Medical teams say that about 50 thousand general practitioners could vaccinate around 20 people a day, which would result in 1 million vaccinations per day nationally. Therefore, the German government is currently in the process of preparing plans to include the general practitioners in the process of vaccination, the Financial Times reports.
Germany is far behind the United Kingdom and the United States in the number of vaccinations, and their vaccination strategy has come under considerable criticism. Germany is otherwise known for its technological advances, engineering know-how and its competencies – which is also why the ineffective vaccination strategy is turning out to be a real national disgrace for them. So far, they have only used 6.2 million doses of the vaccine, while the UK has performed 21 million vaccinations already. “Even Morocco is faster at vaccinating its citizens than Germany,” MP Marco Buschmann commented on the situation, and the Bild Zeitung summed up the mood of the nation last week with the headline “Dear Brits, we envy you.” Great Britain is expected to come out of lockdown on the 21st of June; however, Germany cannot expect the end quite as soon.
Everything that has been going on in Germany is in stark contrast to the first wave of the epidemic, during which they stopped all public life very early, set up an exemplary contact tracking system, and also stopped the virus very quickly, so for them, the first wave of the epidemic ended with one of the lowest infection rates in Europe. However, the second wave that came in the winter hit Germany much harder, and with the more contagious, British variant of the virus. The halt to public life, which was announced in December last year, is still ongoing, and the lack of vaccines does not raise hopes that things might return to normal soon. Widespread public disappointment initially transformed into criticism of the EU and its inadequate vaccine procurement strategy. But with the millions of doses of BioNTech/Pfizer, Moderna and Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccines now coming to Germany, the criticism has shifted to the German government, which has failed to prepare an effective vaccination strategy. They also have a lot of problems with the AstraZeneca vaccine, which the majority of the public is rejecting, and in addition to that, they also have a very complicated online application system for vaccinations, which deters many. The application system also has other shortcomings, as it does not even allow an individual to apply for the second dose of the vaccine. It is being reported that the system is completely amateurish and way too rigorous.
The feeling of shame is growing. “The chaos with the whole vaccination strategy is completely unworthy of a high-tech country like Germany,” Achim Berg, head of the Bitkom company, a digital lobbying group, said. The outrage, however, grew even stronger when invitations to the vaccination were sent to those already deceased in one of the German states. Some MPs have already called for an urgent consultation to at least restructure the procurement system. “What has been happening in the last few weeks, when older people had to wait for hours in the online waiting rooms, is unacceptable,” a member of the parliamentary group, Ralph Brinkhau said, and added that this shows a lack of respect for older people.
A missed opportunity for the digitalisation of the entire healthcare system
Christine Aschenberg-Dugnus, a health policy expert, said Germany should have prepared itself and figured out how to best distribute the vaccine doses among the 82 million people as early as last summer. “We missed our opportunity to digitalise the entire healthcare system,” she said. She mentioned Israel, whose immunisation campaign was led by the health maintenance organisations (HMOs) and not the state. “HMO communicates with all members through the app, and everyone knows exactly when their turn is to get vaccinated,” she said. The German government is currently drawing up plans to get the GPs involved in the vaccination process, but many say that it was a huge mistake that the proposed vaccination strategy – so, the idea that GPs should also be vaccinating patients – was not included in the vaccination campaign from the beginning.