Slovakia could start vaccinating 40+ age group in May

Vaccination chaos should be over on Monday, ministry promises.

Vaccination in ZvolenVaccination in Zvolen (Source: TASR)

Staying up at night struggling to book a vaccination slot will no longer be necessary as of next week, the Health Ministry promises.

A new app that will serve as a virtual waiting room for Covid vaccination in Slovakia is currently in the making and should be ready as of Monday, March 15.

The app comes after much criticism of the ministry in the past week, when vaccination registration turned into an online hunt for vacant slots. The ministry will provide the option to sign up for vaccination using one's birth number.

Read all about Covid vaccination in Slovakia here.

State Secretary of the Health Ministry, Jana Ježíková, apologised for the chaos in a discussion on Radio Expres. She said to expect the system to work properly from Monday.

““It has to whizz, it will whizz,” she said.

More vacant days to open in the evening

Chaos in vaccination registration as new slots open Read more 

After signing up, those interested in vaccination will be allowed into what the ministry calls a virtual waiting room and assigned the available vaccination dates based on their age, on the basis of older people served first.

Age is now the main criteria for getting the vaccine. Shop assistants, taxi drivers, public transport drivers, public transport ticket inspectors, train conductors, and employees belonging to a vaguely defined critical infrastructure remain in the first vaccination phase, and should act as stand-ins.

More online jab-hunting until then

Until the app starts operating, people are only able to register through the Korona.gov.sk form, which has been problematic.

Another 20,000 vacant dates will open for vaccination on Tuesday, March 9 after 19:00 for people above 70, for the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.

Also, 30,000 vacant dates will be available for the AstraZeneca vaccination for people between 60 and 70 years of age on March 10 and 11 (Wednesday and Thursday) in the evening hours.

This week, healthcare workers younger than 60 cannot apply for vaccination, Ježíková admitted. This should change next week when the registration form by the National Health Information Centre (NCZI) will see some changes.

The state secretary explained that new vaccination slots are published in the evening, because the website is busy with registration for PCR and antigen testing during the day.

40-year-olds may get the jab in May

Ježíková said the situation will gradually improve with the growing number of vaccine supplies the ministry expects.

The number of doses Slovakia expects to receive throughout March matches the number the country received between the start of the vaccination rollout in December until the end of February altogether.

150,000 vaccine doses are expected to arrive next week, and then every following week of March, being 51,000 more.

The ministry announced in a press release that they are planning to open more than 250,000 new vaccination slots in the coming weeks until April 7: approximately 140,000 new slots for people 70+ and about 120,000 new slots for people between 60 and 70.

People trust Pfizer and Sputnik V the most Read more 

Ježíková estimated that vaccination for people older than 60 years using the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines could open as early as March.

In April, free slots should be available for people over 50 and in May for those over 40.

New vaccines expecting approval could increase the pace of vaccination.

Slovakia has contracted 1.4 million vaccines by Johnson&Johnson, expected to get the green light from the European Medicines Agency this month. The first doses of this mono-dose vaccine could arrive to Slovakia in April.

The country is also applying to the European Commission for an increase of vaccine supplies in the second quarter.

Ježíková said that if Sputnik is added to the rollout, the process could be faster by a month.

Health Minister Marek Krajčí (OĽaNO) said on the Markíza broadcaster March 9 that if all the vaccines supplies Slovakia expects arrive on time, all those interested in vaccination should be able to at least get the first shot by the beginning of summer holidays in early July.

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