Bulgaria considering setting up round-the-clock Covid-19 vaccination centres

Health authorities in Bulgaria are considering setting up round-the-clock offices in major cities, as well as deploying mobile teams for people with limited mobility, for administering vaccinations against Covid-19, given the huge interest among the public in being immunised, Health Minister Kostadin Angelov said on February 21.

Sunday was the second consecutive day on which Bulgaria opened up the process of vaccination against Covid-19 for all who want the jab, irrespective of category under the national vaccination plan.

Initially, the move was to open up the process only at weekends, but a decision is pending whether to have “green corridors” also on weekdays for those who want to be vaccinated.

Media reports described large queues in all major cities on February 21.

“The idea is for every Bulgarian citizen who wants to be vaccinated to receive a vaccine. We have a sufficient amount of vaccines,” Angelov told a briefing at Alexandrovska Hospital in Bulgaria’s capital city Sofia.

“I thank all the people who believed in science, in the organisation. To those who have not been vaccinated, I want to say something very clear and exactly: Bulgarians, hope is in your hands, the decision is yours.

“Please believe in science, believe in doctors, because as we all see, we are on the threshold of something new, but only through the vaccine can we defeat it,” he said.

Asked whether all vaccines were equally effective, Angelov said: “There are different opinions that say that the Oxford vaccine gives poorer results. This is definitely not the case”.

Angelov said that he expected that the number of people vaccinated on Sunday to reach 10 000 by the end of the day.

According to the February 21 daily report by the national information system, to date 108 356 doses of vaccines against Covid-19 have been administered in Bulgaria, since the immunisation campaign began on December 27. This total includes 4088 doses in the past 24 hours.

Chief State Health Inspector Angel Kunchev said on February 21 that following all the doses of vaccines administered so far – he gave a figure of more than 110 000 – the Medicines Agency had received 153 reports of adverse reactions, most of them typical flu-like symptoms.

The most common flu-like symptoms are an indication that the immune system is responding, working and producing antibodies, he said.

Kunchev said that it makes sense to test for antibodies before immunisation, but in people who have had Covid-19.

“The truth is that from this weekend we entered the mass part of the campaign. As of Monday, the GPs will also be involved,” he said.

Bulgaria expected to receive a further 500 000 doses of vaccines in March. Once the Jannsen vaccine is approved, this would further facilitate the process, Kunchev said.

He said that at least a year after the vaccine, people can count on immunity. There was no doubt about the quality of any vaccine, he said.

Kunchev told reporters that “anti-vaxxers” were trying to sabotage the process of mass immunisation, by signing up for vaccinations and then not arriving for injections, thus attempting to force unused doses to be discarded.

“It is difficult for me to judge how far human malice and misunderstanding can go, but the truth is that there are such things,” Kunchev said.

“I would tell these people – well, if you have decided and you are sure how scary and harmful it is, do not do it, but do not prevent normal people, those who believe in science, to take measures and protect themselves,” he said.

Kunchev said that there was no big difference among the various vaccines that had been approved.

“There are two indicators that each vaccine must meet – efficacy and safety.

“Both indicators are evaluated in Europe by one body – the European Medicines Agency, in Bulgaria by the Medicines Agency. If they have passed these studies, which are extremely severe and every comma and number is paid attention to and proven by facts, and have received permission, you can be sure that the vaccine meets these two requirements,” Kunchev said.

“For me, there is no difference in effectiveness for any of the vaccines. I know how much misinformation has been spread about the AstraZeneca vaccine, and I want to tell you right away that six countries in Europe are administering it to all ages, including Bulgaria. The world’s top experts have concluded that the Astra Zeneca vaccine is for all ages.”

Kunchev urged the public to be timeous in being vaccinated, given that this was a period of increasing morbidity.

(Photo: Bulgaria’s Military Medical Academy)

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