Covid-19 vaccination in Romania: Authorities detail logistics of the third stage
Starting March 15, waiting lists will open for every vaccination center, allowing people covered by the third stage of the vaccination campaign to register to receive the jab, Valeriu Gheorghiță, the coordinator of the national vaccination campaign, explained in a press conference on March 2.
Romania started the vaccination campaign on December 27, with a first phase covering healthcare professionals. The second phase, currently ongoing, targets vulnerable groups and people working in essential areas. The general public is covered by the third stage of the campaign. The vaccination for the general public is expected to start in the second half of April.
Once registered on the vaccination platform, people will receive SMS and email notifications when their turn comes as available places open up. They will have 24 hours to confirm their appointment. Gheorghiță explained that the vaccination centers will only be visible from the waiting lists and that, for the available places, notifications will be sent by following the share of 75% elderly, vulnerable people, and 25% people working in essential areas.
“As regards the third stage, depending on the occupancy rate of the places in the active vaccination centers, for the available places, we will already notify the people in the third stage, in the order of the appointments,” he explained.
Each vaccination center will use one type of vaccine, most of them administering the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine as it has the most available doses and covers the widest age group, from 16 up. The centers for the AstraZeneca vaccine will be second in number, followed by the ones where the Moderna one will be used, as this is the vaccine with the lowest available number of doses.
“The distribution of these centers at the level of every county will be established depending on the demographic characteristics. Where we have an elderly population, there will be a certain type of vaccine, where there are mostly young people, all three vaccines will be available covering that age group,” Gheorghiță said.
He explained again that people would not be able to choose the type of vaccine they receive, as this is not specified on the vaccination registration platform.
“We don’t have this option, and no country offers the option to choose a certain vaccine. […] It is important to ensure the vaccination of as many people as possible. This is the reason we have access to several types of vaccine, not to have the option to choose, because what matters in the end is the level of protection we achieve through vaccination, something that is proven to be maximal for all vaccines with respect to the severe forms of the illness, regarding hospital admissions, and death from this illness,” he explained.
Asked why there are more adverse effects to the AstraZeneca vaccine, as reported daily by the committee coordinating the national vaccination campaign, Gheorghiţă explained that this happened because the viral vector vaccine is more “reactogenic,” especially in the case of young people compared to those who are older than 60-65. He stressed however, that the reactions are not more severe compared to mRNA vaccines, and they occurred more rarely after the second jab.
Gheorghiţă previously announced that he requested a reevaluation of the age threshold for administering the AstraZeneca vaccine. Romania decided to administer it to people aged between 18 and 55, but as additional data came in regarding the vaccine’s efficacy, the authorities are considering administering it to people up to 65 years old, Gheorghiță explained. An official request has been filed with the specialty commissions of the Health Ministry and the National Medicines Agency.
The authorities expect to vaccinate the one millionth person today, March 3, two months after the start of the national vaccination campaign. By March 2, 983,997 people received the vaccine against Covid-19: 619,183 both doses and 364,814 the first dose.
(Photo: Guvernul Romaniei Facebook Page)