Reduced vaccine supply slows inoculation of med staff - official

Grzegorz Michałowski/PAP

The head of the country’s vaccination programme has warned that a reduction in the supplies of the Pfizer vaccine could hit the campaign to vaccinate medical staff.

On Monday some hospitals suspended first-dose vaccinations after Poland received 176,000 Covid-19 vaccines from the US firm, less than half of the amount expected.

Michal Dworczyk, the head of the vaccination strategy, said on Tuesday that due to reduced deliveries, "we will be able to vaccinate around 130,000 people from the ‘zero group," which includes medical staff, instead of the 330,000 scheduled to get a shot this week.

"We will do everything to complete the zero group vaccination in February,” he added. “We hope--and there is a possibility--that we will do it earlier than in the second half of the month, but it also depends on factors beyond our control."

Dworczyk also said that the supply of Pfizer vaccines in the following weeks will also be trimmed.

"It will not be 360,000 but 296,000 (doses), then a bit more. In mid-February, the number of vaccines is to increase," he said.

Pfizer has announced temporary cuts to vaccine supplies to Europe in order to boost its annual production capacity to 2 billion doses from the earlier-planned 1.3 billion. However, to achieve the goal, the firm will have to upgrade its production lines which will involve a temporary reduction in the volume of production.

Dworczyk said that everyone who received the first dose of the vaccine would also receive the second dose, and that on January 25 a mass vaccination operation for seniors over 70 will be launched as planned.

Poland has started vaccinating the most vulnerable groups in society. The process of inoculating the "zero group", consisting mainly of medical personnel, started on December 27 and is still continuing.

On January 15, Poland started the inoculation of people over 80 years old, and by January 18 475,264 patients had received the first dose.

Michal Kuczmierowski, the president of the Material Reserves Agency, the body charged with storing and distributing vaccines, said that by January, a total of 1,257,300 doses of the Covid-19 vaccine had been delivered to Poland.