Cantons speed up Covid vaccination preparations

The vaccine will be free and not compulsory Tampa Bay Times

Switzerland’s 26 cantons are bringing forward their Covid vaccine campaigns following the approval of a first vaccine over the weekend.

This content was published on December 21, 2020 - 09:37

All seven members of the government are to get the jab, with 70-year-old Ueli Maurer first up. They thus hope to reassure a sceptical public. Health Minister Alain Berset reminded the public on Saturday, when Swissmedic announced the authorisation of the first Covid-19 vaccine, that the vaccine was free and not compulsory.

To achieve a sufficient level of immunity in the population, it will take “from a few months to a year. In the best case, six months”, according to Virginie Masserey, who heads infectious diseases at the Federal Office of Public Health. “It’s hard to say. It depends on how quickly the public wants to get vaccinated.”

Almost 107,000 doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine will be delivered in the next few days, and 250,000 a month from January.

The green light from Swissmedic on Saturday has prompted the cantons to review their vaccination schedules, which had initially been planned for the beginning of January. Most will set up vaccination centres and mobile teams.

Canton Lucerne will kick off the vaccination marathon on December 23, followed by Basel City, Fribourg and Valais on December 28. The other cantons in central Switzerland, including Zurich, will start on January 4, unless they join Lucerne and begin earlier.

Jura, which still faces uncertainty about storage and delivery, will also begin on January 4. Neuchâtel and Vaud, which had set campaign launch dates of January 4 and 11 respectively, are meeting on Monday to discuss the situation. Geneva will unveil its vaccination plan on Tuesday.

The public health department in Italian-speaking canton Ticino said on Saturday that the first doses of the Covid vaccine would be delivered at the beginning of January.

 Bern is sticking to its plan to start vaccinations on January 11.

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