Covid-19 in Bulgaria: GPs association makes vaccination recommendations

Bulgaria’s association of general practitioner doctors has made a number of recommendations aimed at improving the mass vaccination drive, saying that a poll of its members showed that logistics, rather than GPs’ preparedness, was the main reason why GPs administered fewer-than-expected vaccine jabs.

The survey was carried out on March 12-15 among 607 GPs, or 15 per cent of all general practitioners in Bulgaria, drawn from all of the country’s districts.

The association said that there was an “impressive discrepancy” between the number of vaccine doses requested by the respondents (67 530) and the amounts they received (19 080), meaning that only 28 per cent of requested amounts were delivered.

Just under half of the respondents (49.4 per cent) were able to receive vaccines on their first visit to their district health inspectorate, which distribute the jabs locally. The rest had at least one, and some as many as five, such visits before receiving vaccine doses.

This was an issue because of lost time, as 70 per cent of respondents said they spend more than two hours getting vaccines, the association said.

“Poor logistics in getting vaccines to GPs, relating to loss of time, ’empty’ trips and insufficient quantities, as well as diverging messages that cause mistrust, have resulted in unfavourable effects, such as demotivation of GPs to carry out [vaccination] activities and demotivated patients with dashed expectations,” the GPs association said.

The long waiting times and uncertainty prompted many people to choose vaccination centres rather than their GPs to receive a jab, which meant that many at-risk individuals could not be given a quick and convenient vaccination, the association said.

There was also a lack of choice for individuals receiving the jab at their GP, with 97.7 per cent of respondents saying they had only administered AstraZeneca-Oxford doses.

This clashed with the preferences of their patients, with 65.8 per cent saying patients preferred an mRNA (Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna) jab. A total of 78.9 per cent of GPs questioned said that they were prepared to administer mRNA vaccines.

The association’s recommendations focused on improving supply logistics, starting with giving priority status to the delivery of vaccines to cover the existing vaccination requests by GPs’ patients, many of whom were elderly people with other conditions who “are waiting for a second month now.”

Until those patients receive their jabs, vaccination centres should only administer vaccines to people scheduled for their second dose, as well as people who are unable to receive a vaccine at their GP, either due to distance or the GP’s inability to administer the jab.

The association estimated that the process would require about 10 business days to complete. Afterwards, GPs should again be given priority and receive three times as many doses as vaccination centres, as well as receiving mRNA vaccines to give their patients a choice.

Other recommendations include larger deliveries of vaccines to GPs and improving delivery times – which could be done by allowing a GP to take vaccines meant for a nearby colleague, but also by using either the police or commercial courier services for deliveries.

(Photo: EC Audiovisual Service)

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The Sofia Globe staff

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