Health minister unhappy with vaccination uptake

Ljubljana – Health Minister Janez Poklukar made a renewed appeal to the population on Monday to get vaccinated against Covid-19, as he warned of the risk posed by the more infectious Delta variant of coronavirus. He said the country was preparing for the fourth wave of infections even as transmission rates remain low.

The Delta variant, first detected in India, is currently the main threat to a peaceful summer and a normal autumn, Poklukar told reporters in Ljubljana as he presented a bill put forward by the government to secure investment in healthcare over the next decade.

“Portugal went from green to red within a fortnight. The daily increase in positive cases is 590% with the delta variant prevailing,” the minister said in illustrating just how fast the situation could deteriorate.

He repeated that full vaccination is the only effective measure to control the epidemic. “Let me thus appeal to everyone once again to get vaccinated so we can have schools open in the autumn, have tourism and other activities widely open.”

“We are preparing with all means for the fourth wave of the epidemic,” he said. Given the spread of the delta variant, he does not think there is a question any longer whether there will be a fourth wave, it is only a matter of when there will be one.

Data presented last Thursday showed 18 cases of the Delta variant had been confirmed in Slovenia in the week before, with officials saying the problem was quite a few could not be linked to travel.

The authorities are not happy with the uptake of vaccination, the minister admitted, saying this was why they moved to introduce mobile vaccination units almost two weeks ago in a bid to reach “each resident”.

In cooperation with the National Institute of Public Health (NIJZ) mobile units are being directed to areas where vaccination rates are lower.

Last week, ministry officials met the Slovenia Youth Council to try to come up with the best and safest way to get young people to get the jab.

The minister was also meeting today family doctors, “who have access to every Slovenian resident and expertise to address everyone of us”.

He offered the launch of the digital Covid certificate last week as an important aspect in controlling the epidemic.

By Saturday, 21,000 certificates had been downloaded from the e-health zVem portal. All those who have been fully inoculated will find the certificate in their mailboxes in the coming days, after which the certificates will also be sent out to those who have received one dose or have recovered from Covid-19.

A special app for smart phones that will provide access to zVem and allow users to keep their certificate is to be rolled out in 14 days.

NIJZ data show that 39% of Slovenia’s entire population has been vaccinated with the first dose and 31% has been fully inoculated.