From priority groups to reservation system: Czech Republic’s vaccination strategy takes its final shape

The top priority includes people in care homes, those over 80, and medical workers and students; registry begins on Friday.

Raymond Johnston

Written by Raymond Johnston
Published on 14.01.2021 09:56 (updated on 14.01.2021)

The Czech government has unveiled a point system that will determine when people can get vaccinated against the novel coronavirus.

The Czech Republic’s top priority group of those to be preferentially vaccinated against COVID-19 in January and February includes 838,000 people, according to an instruction document that is part of the government's vaccination strategy. This is about 210,000 more than was included in a previous version.

The rules for vaccination were confirmed by the government on Jan. 13, and the Minister of Health Minister Jan Blatný (for ANO) immediately signed them.

The vaccinations have already started among the clients and employees of senior care homes and among healthcare workers, mainly those working in hospitals.

The updated version newly includes all medical workers, medical students and volunteers working in hospitals, and also prison wardens and the staff of the Interior Ministry’s detention facilities where COVID-19 infection has emerged.

The high-priority group is to get vaccinated in January and February. The goal is to vaccinate 70 percent of its members at least.

“We estimate that there are approximately 70 to 75 thousand people who have already been vaccinated,” Prime Minister Andrej Babiš (ANO) said.

Over 61,000 vaccinated people have been reported since the late December start of the vaccination, and the number of those vaccinated but still officially unreported is estimated at up to 14,000. As part of the new system, the government also ordered health professionals to report the number of people vaccinated each day.

The document sets a risk score for various population groups, and this is used to evaluate the urgency of vaccination. The highest score of 14 is for clients of elderly care homes and homes for the disabled, which have about 71,000 people, and also for those in hospitalized in long-term and follow-up care facilities, which accounts for about 29,000 people.

Vaccination of these groups began before the Jan. 15 launch of the vaccination reservation system. Some 6 percent of Czech senior homes and other social care inpatient facilities have been vaccinated against the novel coronavirus as of Jan. 12.

To have a vaccination slot assigned in the reservation system, people over 80, with the risk score of 13, of whom there are about 440,000, can register themselves as of Friday.

Medical workers, medical students, and other volunteers working in hospitals, public health protection workers, and those working with COVID-infected people in detention facilities and prisons follow with the score of 11.

The next priority group, about 3.7 million people, can be vaccinated from February to June. Their order of vaccination will depend on the risk score. Hospitals will choose their patients for vaccination, mainly people over 65 and those chronically ill and with risk factors.

With the score of five, this group includes the indispensable technical and economic workers in hospitals, key employees of the state critical infrastructure, soldiers, and social care and medical facility workers who are not in contact with clients, and also 408,000 people aged from 75 to 79.

The same score includes people with diabetes, obese people with BMI over 35, those with a serious long-lasting diseases of lungs, kidneys, heart, with blood or lymphatic diseases, those after a transplant surgery, with serious neurological diseases, and with a high blood pressure treated by two or more medicines. They have to report their disease during their registration for vaccination and submit the relevant doctor’s report.

The group to follow are people aged from 70 to 74, of whom there are 602,000, chronic patients with less serious diseases such as immunity system defects, rare genetic diseases and intellectual insufficiency, or other disorders influencing their capability of observing the anti-coronavirus measures. This group also includes those who care for a high-risk group person for a long time.

People aged 65-69 and the rest of the critical infrastructure workers follow with the score of three, while those employed with the police, fire brigades, prison service, kindergartens, elementary and secondary schools, children’s homes and similar facilities have the score of two.

With the score of 1, the part of the prioritized group are university teachers and the workers of funeral services and crematoriums.

The vaccination of further groups of people may start in May and continue in 2022, performed in vaccination centers as well as out-patient clinics.

People interested in vaccination must register on the website crs.uzis.cz. They can enters a phone number to receive a confirmation code. The applicant will then enter their name, permanent residence, birth number, and health insurance data. They will then choose the preferred place for vaccination. A person can also register via the information line 1221.

Relatives can assist the elderly in registration, and it can also be done by a general practitioner.

The speed of vaccination depends on how much vaccine the Czech Republic can acquire. So far, people have been vaccinated with a vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech, and the first doses from Moderna arrived in the Czech Republic on Jan. 12. The supply of syringes will last 65 days, Interior Minister Jan Hamáček (ČSSD) said after a meeting of the Central Crisis Staff.

The Czech Republic has so far received 169,650 vaccines. In the first quarter, the country should have over 1 million doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine. With the addition of the Moderna vaccine, the country should have about 1.5 million vaccines for the first quarter of 2021. A third vaccine from Astra Zeneca is awaiting approval.