Swiss families cross the border to France and Germany to get COVID booster shot
Switzerland’s slow rollout of booster vaccines against COVID-19 has caused many people and families across the country to head abroad to France and Germany, in hopes of obtaining their third shot.
Switzerland’s COVID-19 booster rollout has been criticised
Even though Switzerland has started to offer booster vaccines to the over-65s, many younger people are concerned about their vaccine protection waning - especially if they have vulnerable family members. The over-65s are also having trouble getting their booster vaccines, since vaccine centres are plagued by overloaded landlines, huge queues, and often, there are no available slots to book at all.
Switzerland’s Federal Vaccination Commission announced that it would be offering booster vaccines for all age groups by the end of November, after much criticism for its initially delayed response. Though the announcement was met with some joy from concerned residents, many people fear that since a lot of vaccination centres closed after people received the first two shots, it will take a long time to get the centres up and running again.
Many cantons have admitted that it will take much longer to offer boosters to everyone than promised by the Federal Vaccination Commission, with some regions suggesting that they will not have the capacity in their healthcare system to vaccinate everyone until early 2022.
Can’t get a jab in Switzerland? Head to Germany!
These factors have inspired many Swiss people to think outside of the box. Rather than waiting until next year, many are heading to neighbouring countries like Germany and France, to get their third shot. The booster rollout in Germany started before Switzerland and is more easily accessible than the Swiss system.
Florian Kohler is one of the vaccine tourists that managed to receive a third vaccination in Germany. In an interview with 20 minuten, he explained, “I received my first and second vaccinations very early, because my wife is clinically vulnerable. In order to protect her, I spontaneously decided to take part in the mobile vaccination campaign in Gailingen, Germany, the weekend before last.”
Despite the concerns of people in Switzerland, the head of the Federal Vaccination Commission has stated that it is not necessary for everyone to receive a booster vaccine. When referring to Swiss residents going abroad to get their booster vaccine, the head of the commission reiterated that “those who cannot wait should do what they want. But it is not necessary.”