Babiš: All can apply for coronavirus vaccinations from February

Photo: ČTK/Dalibor Glück

Registration for vaccination against the coronavirus will open for the over 80s in the Czech Republic from January 15, while all ages can apply from the start of February, says Prime Minister Andrej Babiš. The specific vaccination date will be based on age, employment sector and relevant health problems.

Everyone living in the Czech Republic will be able to register in a state-wide vaccination database from February 1, Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš said on TV Prima on Sunday. People will be able to register online, via telephone, or through their GP.

The system will then prioritize among applicants based on criteria including their age and relevant health issues. People suffering from diabetes, obesity, or serious lung and kidney problems will be dealt with first while others may have to wait, the prime minister said.

Photo: ČTK/Vít Šimánek

“Those people who are young and healthy will be added to the database, but they are unlikely to get an immediate vaccination date. Once their appointment is set by the system they will receive information via text message.”

An important aspect of the registration system is that it will show the government how much interest there is in receiving a vaccine within society, Mr. Babiš said. It is unlikely that people will be able to choose which of the seven available vaccines they want, he said.

Further details on how the government plans to operate the vaccination programme will be announced by Health Minister Jan Blatný on Tuesday.

The current vaccination strategy counts on inoculating 65 percent of the population, which is just under seven million people. The main inoculation period, when the plan envisages vaccinating more than 770,000 people a month, will stretch from April to September.

It is also by September that the prime minister hopes the vaccination target will be fulfilled. However, vaccine deliveries are planned to continue until at least June 2022.

Photo: ČTK/Dalibor Glück

Recent polls suggest that the September target may be too optimistic, as a substantial percentage of respondents said that they do not plan on getting the jab. However, among health workers, where the vaccine has gradually become available following its distribution shortly after Christmas, it seems to be popular.

For example in the Zlín Region, where the vaccine became available for health sector staff on Monday, there has been significant interest, regional hospitals spokesman Egon Havrlant told Czech Radio.

“There is great interest in getting vaccinated among our employees. In the Zlín hospital alone 700 health workers have asked for it. In the Uherské Hradiště hospital it is around 400. We expect these numbers to rise further.”

Aside from health sector staff, workers in critical infrastructure, social care and teachers have been designated as priority groups.

According to Mr. Babiš, the Czech Republic has ordered 15 million doses of coronavirus vaccines as opposed to the 11.9 million planned in the government strategy.

More than half of the orders are for the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, which has already been approved by the European Medicines Agency. However, six of the seven vaccines the Czech government is aiming to acquire are still pending final approval.