They get privileges to get vaccinated

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On the phone, Michèle’s petulant voice * does not suggest that she is already 75 years old on the clock. At her age, and with the chronic disease from which she suffers, this Lausanne resident is obviously a priority to have access to a vaccine against Covid-19. But here it is: in Switzerland, the doses arrive in dropper, and the slots are rare. After a first meeting fixed in January which she could not attend, she contacted the Vaud authorities again and waited her turn. In vain.

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“During this time, a friend was vaccinated at the same time as her husband, when she herself was not a priority… Good for them, but it bothers me that it is done to the detriment of the more vulnerable people. . As for me, I was in despair, says Michele. I ended up asking my daughter, who works at the CHUV, to do something. A few days later, I had my bites! ”

Michèle’s case is not isolated, according to information gathered by Time. In the canton of Vaud, some doctors are going beyond the official system to vaccinate people they know, even before they have been officially summoned. These privileges are not a massive phenomenon, but they call into question the credibility of the vaccination system with the most vulnerable citizens, who play the game and calmly wait their turn.


And yet, there would be cause for impatience. Last Friday, on the CoronaVax site, which regulates access to vaccination for all Vaudois, all vaccination centers were full. Only a few isolated practices offered appointments in the coming weeks, but reserved for patients, such as that of Athanasia Papathanasiou for example, near Lausanne train station. Over the phone, we are confirmed that there are a few doses available, but still assigned according to official criteria – for people over 75 years old, or suffering from at-risk pathologies.

How many people in Switzerland have been vaccinated without going through the official channel supposed to guarantee compliance with priority cases? Impossible to know, because the Federal Office of Public Health itself does not count, and refers to the cantonal authorities for this type of question.

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To what extent do doctors at the Vaudois University Hospital (CHUV), for example, have the right to vaccinate people outside the official sector? The establishment transfers the question to the Department of Health and Social Action of the State of Vaud, which specifies that for “CHUV doctors engaged in the cantonal vaccination center, it is not possible to vaccinate without go through the center coordinators. They are responsible for welcoming and registering people who come, and they apply the rules with rigor and kindness. It may happen that on rare occasions, if a couple over the age of 75 shows up, only one of whom has an appointment, that the husband or wife is also vaccinated according to the doses available. “

Orphan doses

Within the population, these privileges are all the more controversial as the shortage of vaccines is increasing in Switzerland. In Geneva, the Directorate of Health announced Friday, March 5 that due to the delay in delivery of Moderna doses, more than 1,000 people had seen their appointment postponed by at least two weeks. In the meantime, there will be no exceptions. “If a person does not meet the strict criteria to be vaccinated as a priority, he absolutely cannot be,” insists Simon Regard, co-head of the communicable diseases sector of the Geneva cantonal doctor’s service.

A relaxation of these rules is however accepted in the case of orphan doses. At the La Lignière clinic in Gland, there are thus every evening between two and 14 unused doses during the day, out of the 250 daily vaccinations on average. Rather than throwing them away, the teams then call people on the waiting list, who must come within half an hour. “The idea is not to waste these doses and to optimize the system,” explains Sophie Gertsch, communications manager. We contact people at risk as a priority, of course, and have always found takers. ”


In Thurgau, the early vaccination of Johann Rupert, majority shareholder of the Richemont group, scandalized last January. In the context of a pandemic, the privileges of the richest are highly criticized. In Spain, the vaccination in Abu Dhabi of Princesses Elena and Cristina, barely fifty years old, is controversial while 1.4 million inhabitants have benefited from a vaccine in the country.

In Peru, nearly 500 senior officials, former ministers and a former president were vaccinated by the Chinese laboratory Sinopharm even before the start of the campaign in this South American state, which gave rise to a real “To get vaccinated” (vaccingate). A few weeks before the general elections, two sitting ministers even resigned.

* Name known to the editorial staff