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LTV's De Facto: vaccination priority groups are in disorder

While starting to vaccinate social care center employees and customers, officials and elderly people, less attention is paid to another group which, in terms of priorities, is above these: hospital patients before complex surgeries or chemotherapy, Latvian Television's broadcast De Facto reported February 21.

Cancer patients who go to chemotherapy are required to have a vaccine against Covid-19, but evidently there is no clarity and hospital medics do not know about it.

The Cabinet meeting on February 9 had indeed discussed a priority group of patients before social care and state officials, people with "medical indications". These are oncology patients, patients before transplantation and long-term healthcare patients.

This was noticed by lawyer Arta Snipe when a person close to her started chemotherapy: “Seeing a person should be higher in the priority group, when the next groups are already being vaccinated, I was automatically interested: hey you had chemo yesterday, no one offered you? No, nobody offered!”

On February 10, when Snipe raised attention to this on Twitter, Health Minister Daniels Pavļuts replied that this should be happening: “You have to talk about it with the treating doctor. Patients with severe medical indications go before any line if necessary. This was the recommendation of the State Council of Immunization two weeks ago. The medics' decision,” he wrote.

However, at that moment no patient with these indications had been vaccinated against Covid-19, neither in Stradiņš hospital, or any other hospital, including the large East Clinical University hospital.

In both of them, vaccination is scheduled to start 22 February.

The Minister for Health acknowledged that the situation is unsatisfactory and that communication has not been sufficient. But he rejected criticism in the direction of the Vaccination Bureau. “We have to understand that our great worry, our great unease associated with this severe pandemic, with the fatigue that has accumulated in us, we are dumping it over seven people recently recruited. We will, of course, beat them up, guaranteed! But it won't make it better,” said Pavļuts.

In the minister's opinion, the responsibility for communication with hospitals and handling of coordination problems lies with the National Health Service (NVD), not the Vaccination Bureau. In turn, the NVD said hospitals have been informed, but the further action depends on them because they need to be prepared.

“As we can see in the current vaccination process, there are, a few days of delay between decision-making to practical action, while everyone in each treatment institution finds the best principles of process organization in general,” said Liga Gaigala, expert of the National Health Service.

Meanwhile, from the official authorization to the more active start of vaccination, a week and a half have passed.

The chance to vaccinate this group was found more quickly by only a few, for example, the Children's Clinical University Hospital vaccinated a number of long-term oncology patients' parents and cystic fibrosis patients.

It should be noted that, along with increased activity, the distribution of vaccines will also be a bigger challenge. Another question is about the second dose of the vaccine - whether a patient will be able to receive it if they have been discharged by then. The only thing that is clear is that there is no clear and uniform order.

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