What is the point of the current vaccination registration system?

Know-how acquired by people working with excluded Roma communities could help to get the rest of the country immunised quicker.

PM Eduard Heger was vaccinated in Bratislava during the first weekend of May. He received the AstraZeneca vaccine. PM Eduard Heger was vaccinated in Bratislava during the first weekend of May. He received the AstraZeneca vaccine. (Source: Twitter account of Eduard Heger)

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As of last Thursday, everyone older than 16 years of age can register for a Covid vaccination jab in Slovakia.

For now, let us leave aside the fact that registration is an extra step that may well deter some people who would otherwise get vaccinated, were they to be invited for an appointment by their health insurer or their general practitioner.

The system was supposed to be straightforward: it should accept all registrations, but allocate vaccines strictly according to age-based criteria, with the exception of people with specific diagnoses, which are fed into the system directly by health insurers.

Very straightforwardly, the system started inviting teenagers to get their Pfizer vaccines as early as this past weekend. The explanation of the NCZI, which currently manages the system, is that owing to low interest in vaccination among the 60+ age group, who are eligible for this type of vaccine (unlike people aged between 18 and 59, who are assigned the AstraZeneca jab unless they suffer from some chronic disease), 16- and 17-year-olds were next in line. Pfizer is the only vaccine that is approved for use by them.

With the verve he reserves especially for Facebook posts, Finance Minister (sic) Igor Matovič called the vaccination of teenagers a “blamage” (i.e. a disgrace, or act of incompetence) and demanded the Health Ministry “put things right”. The teenagers’ appointments were scrapped, for some of them just the night before, after the authorities seemed to have forgotten that there were real boys and girls behind the numbers.

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