The Health Ministry of Czech Republic recommended regional health authorities on Jan. 27 to suspend new COVID-19 vaccinations to prioritize second doses amid concerns on supply shortage.
“The Health Ministry recommends interrupting first-dose vaccinations and suspending reservations for such vaccinations for 14 days,” Health Ministry Spokesperson Barbora Peterova said, adding that the ministry made the decision based on the reduced supply and the number of people who need the second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
Peterova also said that the two-week suspension of new vaccinations would take place in Prague and possibly in other regions where there is not enough supply of vaccines, but she also added that regional coordinators must primarily evaluate the situation in each region.
According to local media reports, some regions, including Central Bohemia, have canceled the scheduled vaccination dates for a number of senior citizens aged over 80, while some had their appointments postponed to 28 days after the first dose instead of after 21 days.
However, Health Minister Jan Blatny criticized the halt on public broadcaster Czech Television, saying that the reported shortages should not had prompted the suspension.
“We recommend to regional coordinators that it is not suitable to postpone the second dose for more than 28 days. That may consecutively lead to a limitation of appointments for the first dose,” Blatny said.
Prime Minister Andrej Babis also criticized the suspension, describing it as “unnecessary” and blaming individual vaccination sites.
“The vaccination centers need to deal with this themselves. They know how many vaccines they are getting,” Babis said.
According to the data from the health ministry, Czech Republic has administered 222,450 vaccines. The vaccines developed by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna are the only vaccines available in the country.
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