It was 2 p.m. on Sunday, December 27, when the first patients were welcomed into the Arena in Treptow. This huge hall with red brick walls usually organizes concerts. It is now, in times of the Covid-19 pandemic, the largest of the six “vaccine pods” in the capital.
→ EXPLANATION. Covid-19: the vaccination campaign has started
If the other five vaccination centers are ready, only the Arena entered service in Berlin on Sunday. “We do not have enough vaccines to open all places”, recognizes Mario Czaja, president of the Berlin section of the Red Cross, which manages this center.
In Berlin, 9,750 doses received on Sunday
As of Sunday, Berlin had indeed received 9,750 Pfizer / BioNtech doses. The German capital expects to receive 59,000 by the end of December. It is therefore in a certain calm that the vaccination campaign began there. Ultimately, the Arena will be able to vaccinate 5,000 people per day, but only 150 were invited on this first day. All of them work in hospitals and retirement homes. Sixty mobile teams are also responsible for vaccinating in nursing homes. People over 80 and nursing staff are the priority groups for vaccination across the Rhine.
To be allowed to enter the Arena, patients must have responded to the official invitation from the authorities. An 82-year-old lady had this bitter experience. Arrived without an appointment, she turned back, disappointed. Indoors, patients should wear FFP2 masks – provided free of charge – and disinfect their hands. Then begins the administrative procedure, carried out by volunteers and about fifty soldiers. 80 individual cabins have been installed, intended for this use. Patients are then invited for an individual interview with a doctor, before signing a contract and receiving the first injection. Two teams of fifteen doctors take turns, helped by volunteers. Then follows a rest in place of 15 to 30 minutes.
“I want to see my friends again, travel! “
Installed in this waiting room, Elisabeth, a nursing assistant in a hospice, admits having been a little worried. “I was a little scared because I have asthma and because this vaccine was developed very quickly. But for now everything seems to be going well. I absolutely wanted to get vaccinated as soon as possible. I hope that we will quickly find some semblance of normality. I want to see my friends again, to travel! “, she launches full of hope. In the meantime, this caregiver will have to continue to respect the sanitary rules in his workplace and in his private life. “Being vaccinated does not give us any particular right”, she explains.
For the Federal Minister of Health, Jens Spahn, this first day of vaccination was a “Success”. “This is a giant leap in the fight against the pandemic “, He commented, while the latest figures of the health evolution of the country are particularly worrying.
Problem in the cold chain in Bavaria
The launch of this campaign had some hiccups, such as a problem in the cold chain in some vaccination centers in Bavaria. The one-day early vaccination, Saturday, December 26, of 40 residents of a nursing home for dependent elderly people in Saxony-Anhalt also drew criticism from Jens Spahn, who was keen on a coordinated launch at national and European level.
The authorities are now calling for patience. “We will be at the end of the road when 60% of the population is immune, but we are very far from it », Recalls Dilek Kalayci, Minister of Health in the city-state of Berlin. In particular, there is the question of supply. The country is counting on 11 to 13 million doses of Pfizer / BioNtech vaccines by the end of March 2021, far too few for the 83 million inhabitants. General practitioners will probably not be able to vaccinate before next June.
More than 30,000 deaths in the country
Germany has crossed, Sunday December 27, the threshold of 30,000 deaths from Covid-19. Unlike the spring when it had been relatively spared (around 4,500 deaths on April 20, against nearly 20,000 at the same time in France), Germany is hit hard in this season.
Its particular demography is put forward to explain this development: 22% of the population is over 65 years old.
Despite the many demonstrations Against the pandemic control measures, the population adheres to the vaccination campaign. According to a survey published last week, 67% of Germans say they want to be vaccinated.