Govt plans to set up 61 vaccination centres

Ljubljana – The government adopted a revised vaccination strategy at a correspondence session on Monday, envisaging 61 vaccination centres, including 13 in hospitals, Health Minister Janez Poklukar told the press on Tuesday. No changes have been made to the priority groups, but the minister presented the order of vaccination in more detail.

The 61 vaccination centres will include 13 centres in hospitals, which will be intended for medical staff but also chronic patients, a military vaccination centre, and a centre at the National Institute of Public Health (NIJZ), which also distributes the vaccines.

The priority groups remain the same, with health workers on top of the list, followed by people over 80 years, then over 75 and over 70 years, and then patients with chronic diseases who are particularly vulnerable regardless of their age.

Next in line are diplomats and Foreign Ministry officials as well as officials from other ministries travelling to other EU countries due to the upcoming Slovenia’s presidency. Then come diplomatic representatives of other countries in Slovenia, and soldiers leaving for missions abroad.

The list continues with those over 65, followed by employees in education, where kindergarten teachers and teachers teaching in the first three or five years of primary school and those over 50 years, old will get the vaccine first, Poklukar said.

This group also includes members of parliament, government, the Constitutional Court and other top institutions, who will be vaccinated according to their age.

This group is followed by patients with chronic conditions aged between 18 and 64, and than people aged between 60 and 64. Employees working in critical infrastructure follow, not including taxi drivers, and then the rest of the population.

The AstraZeneca vaccine is registered only for the 18-64 age group, so it is being administered to people from this group regardless of the distribution of other vaccines to other groups.

Choosing which vaccine a person will be vaccinated with is not possible at this point given the limited quantities of the vaccine and the complex logistics involved, Poklukar said.

He noted though that the ministry was signing a contract on 349,000 shots of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine just today, and that the delivery was expected in the second quarter of the year.

The goal is to have at least 60% of the population or 1.2 million inoculated as soon as possible, the minister said.

The new strategy also allows for storage of vaccines whose registration by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) is still pending, the government said after last night’s session.

Responding to a journalist question about the prospects of Slovenia potentially buying vaccines on its own, Poklukar noted today that the country’s buying EMA-approved vaccines alone would be a breach of EU agreements.

The minister also pointed to the new strains of coronavirus, noting that according to unofficial information 62 cases of the British and one case of the South African variants had been confirmed in Slovenia in the last week. An official weekly report is meanwhile expected on Wednesday.

He said that the new strains posed a challenge and that a large part of tomorrow’s government session would be dedicated to this issue.