Shortage of Covid-19 vaccines reported in Bulgaria’s Plovdiv

The drive for mass vaccinations against Covid-19 in Bulgaria’s city of Plovdiv hit a snag on February 22 because of a shortage of vaccines to be administered by general practitioners, and at the regional health inspectorate’s three immunisation offices, reports from the city said.

This came three days after Bulgaria embarked on a system of mass vaccinations through “green corridors” for everyone wanting a jab, irrespective of their place in the national vaccination plan approved by the government in December.

Radio Plovdiv quoted Dr Kostadin Sotirov, head of the association of general practitioners, as saying that the situation was similar in other major cities in Bulgaria.

He said that so far six GPs in Plovdiv had told him on February 22 that they had turned away patients who wanted to be vaccinated, because they did not have doses available.

Plovdiv news website reported that in the early afternoon on Monday, the three immunisation offices of the regional health inspectorate had turned away people wanting to be vaccinated, because the vaccines had run out.

Separate Plovdiv media reports quoted Sotirov as saying that the problem was with supplies from Sofia.

He was quoted as saying that colleagues from the capital city had told him that vaccines were supplied there for hospitals, but not for GPs.

Sotirov said that he still had vaccines available, but if there was no new delivery, he would stop vaccinating on Wednesday.

By the afternoon of Monday, he had administered 27 people and expected that the figure would reach 40 by the end of the day. He had 40 doses available for Tuesday. About 200 patients have registered with Sotirov to receive vaccinations.

Radio Varna reported Dr Karolina Zlateva, deputy head of the association of general practitioners, as saying from February 23, all GPs in the Black Sea city must start the vaccination of patients in the fourth phase of the vaccination plan, which includes people older than 65 and those with chronic concomitant illnesses.

The report said that on February 23, GPs in Varna received several vials of the AstraZeneca vaccines against Covid-19. Zlateva said that a further delivery was expected on February 26.

Interest in receiving the vaccination was growing, she said. Initially, 15 per cent of her patients had registered, but in a few days that figure had doubled.

Radio Bourgas reported that as of February 22, distribution of doses to GPs in the southern Black Sea city had started.

The head of the regional association of GPs, Dr Petko Zhelyazkov, said that the necessary arrangements had been made and a list of people who had registered had been prepared.

He said that he had received just enough doses to vaccinate 30 people, though he was confident there would be more doses available by the end of the week.

Zhelyazkov said that going to the regional health inspectorate to collect vials was time-consuming and added that the logistics were “a bit lame”.

Bulgarian National Radio said on February 22 that GPs in the small settlements in the district of Veliko Turnovo were not ready to take part in the mass vaccination drive.

GPs from Polski Trumbesh and Elena said they had difficulties and were not ready to start vaccinations against Covid-19 for anyone, BNR reported.

The Military Medical Academy in Sofia said on its website that as of February 22, it had opened a second hall for administering vaccines against Covid-19 and it was possible to vaccinate 20 people at a time.

More than 3000 people had been vaccinated at the Military Medical Academy in the past few days, the statement said.

Major-General Ventsislav Mutafchiyski, head of the academy and of the national operational HQ against Covid-19, said: “People have really matured and we see motivation in the whole spectrum of ages – our oldest vaccinated is 96 years old, and the youngest – 18 years old.

“We are constantly explaining the benefits of vaccines. We need to get vaccinated to break the backbone of this epidemic. We must be able to move freely, to work freely, to have a great time with our children, our parents. And this will happen only through a vaccine, nothing else,” Mutafchiyski said.

Bulgaria’s top health officials have issued repeated assurances that there will be enough doses of vaccine available for all who want to be immunised. The country expects deliveries of about 500 000 doses of vaccines in March.

(Photo: EC Audiovisual Service)

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The Sofia Globe staff

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