Germany worried over vaccine shortage | Germany| News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | 07.11.2009
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Germany worried over vaccine shortage

Vaccine shortages point to a shift in public opinion toward the hazards of the swine flu in Germany. Some people are facing waiting periods of weeks before vaccination will be available.

A needle of vaccine is poised above a patient's arm

Production shortfalls are causing long waits for the shot

Only two weeks after beginning a national vaccination campaign against H1N1, the intial skepticism over the vaccine has apparently vanished in Germany. The rise in cases and deaths within Europe is thought to be the reason for an apparent swing in public opinion about the dangers posed by swine flu.

In September a study found that 62 percent of Germans polled would not get vaccinated.

Now, due to high demand and supply shortages there are waiting lists to receive the swine flu vaccine. In some parts of Germany, those wating for vaccinations are facing a delay of several weeks.

The Rhineland-Palatinate ministry of health reported part of the reason for the wait is that that less vaccine was produced than expected. They cited production shortfalls with the manufacturer.

The Baden-Wuerttemberg ministry of social affairs complained of "a lack of management" that led to the shortage of vaccine.

Can it be too perfect?

According to the Managing Director of Pharmacists for Schleswig-Holstein Frank Jaschkowski, the problem with the vaccine shortage lay with the stringent quality control standards.

"The quality standards for the vaccine are extremely high," Jaschkowski said. "So it wouldn't be released unless it was absolutely flawless."

All across the country, health officials are reporting a significant increase in those seeking swine flu vaccinations.

Federal Health Minister Philipp Roesler told the German daily Bild on Saturday that he wanted to assess the swine flu situation at a health ministers' conference on Wednesday.

"Along with my colleagues from the various states' health ministries, I would like to compare notes about where potential weaknesses in the national vaccination supply scheme may exist," Roesler said.

Editor: Andreas Illmer

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