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Booster vaccination: How people willing to vaccinate are deterred more than supported

My second vaccination was at the beginning of July. So it would be time to slowly stretch out your feelers towards the booster. So much in advance: It will be a scary experience.

Since I live in Hanover, the most obvious entry into the vaccine madness is for me Lower Saxony vaccination portal. There I am greeted by a repellent mixture of coldness and indifference: go on, there is nothing to see here – no vaccination centers, no appointments, and please do not bother the hotline.

Below it says: “You can get your vaccination from your general practitioner.” No I can not. Is fully booked until March.

Gregor Honsel has been the TR editor since 2006. He believes that many complex problems have simple, easy-to-understand, but wrong solutions.

Further links lead to pages that describe verbosely how important a vaccination is – but not where I can get one.

With several clicks I finally get to the Vaccination side of the city of Hanover. At the time of the research, a total of seven vaccination opportunities are noted there, but only three of them are permanently occupied – in a city with more than half a million inhabitants. There is also a friendly hint to please dress warmly because of the long lines, if necessary bring an umbrella and something to eat. “For organizational reasons, there is no on-site catering,” it says there.

I can understand. Where would we be if people were with one State-funded bratwurst lured to vaccination would? I would be happy if these “organizational reasons” at least didn’t prevent uncomplicated vaccination. That’s exactly how I imagined a low-threshold offer. Thanks for nothing.

After all, there is a link to one too Databasewho spit out 130 vaccinating practices for Hanover after a few more clicks. For a sample, I circle the search for five practices in the vicinity. Two of them cannot be reached by phone for two days. On a third, the answering machine directs me to the practice’s website, where I can supposedly book vaccination appointments. No way – the offer does not apply to new patients.

I don’t want to take a dose of vaccine away from someone who needs it more urgently than I do. Still, I’d think it would be nice not to have to wait the full six months for the booster – the Protective effect finally subsides before that. Or at least to be able to fix an appointment for a later date. But even that is not easy. At the fourth practice, I finally get an office hour assistant. She recommends that I get in touch again at the end of December – when my six-month deadline has been reached. Great. Then I’ll probably get an appointment sometime in May. It wasn’t until the fifth practice that I finally managed to make an appointment – for mid-January.

Oh look, it works. But it also cost time and nerves. I do not blame the practices for this. After all, they are also being held back from their work by the fact that thousands of people are now calling dozen of medical practices.

To avoid misunderstandings: I find a certain amount of effort to protect my own health – and that of my fellow human beings – quite reasonable. And I by no means expect the syringe to be handed to me on a silver platter, preferably accompanied by a fresh sausage. But that doesn’t change the fact that simplicity and convenience are key factors in getting people to vaccinate. And it is precisely in this situation, in which this is more important than ever, that the subtext echoes to me on all official pages: “Go away! Leave us alone! See for yourself how you get on!”

Sure, such a pandemic is new territory, and there is a certain learning curve to overcome. Unfortunately, the learning curve in this case seems to me to be negative: Politicians have put a lot of effort into setting up vaccination centers that function well in order to restart them at exactly the worst possible point in time – without a plan for an alternative. We should dress really warm.

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(grh)

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