Paris (AP) – The few hours it takes to give the first pictures of a coronavirus vaccine to 14 residents of the John XXIII nursing home – named after a pope and not far from the birthplace of vaccine pioneer Louis Pasteur in eastern France – take weeks of preparation.
The director of the home, Samuel Robb, first had to bite his way through a dense 61-page vaccination protocol, one of several sound guides from the French government, which details how to act, to the number (10) times each vaccine flask has to be turned upside down to mix its contents.
While France is trying to understand why its vaccination campaign is starting so slowly, the answer lies in part in bureaucracy and the decision to give priority to vulnerable older people in old people’s homes. They are perhaps the most difficult group to begin with, due to the need for informed consent and the difficulties that explain the complex science of fast-tracking vaccines.
Claude Fouet, still full of wim and good humor at the age of 89, but with memory problems, was among the first in his nursing home in Paris to agree to vaccination. But in conversation, it quickly became apparent that his understanding of the pandemic was a stain. Eva Guillaume, the director of the home, had to remind Foue that in April he survived his own brush with the virus, which killed more than 66,000 people in France.
“I was in the hospital,” Fuet recalls slowly, “with a dead man next to me.”
Guillaume says getting her consent from her 64 residents – or their guardians and families when they aren’t able to agree enough – is proving to be the most laborious part of preparing to start inoculations later this month. Some families have said no, and some want to wait a few months to see how vaccinations develop before making a decision.
“You can’t count on nursing homes going fast,” she said. “This means, every time, starting a conversation with families, a conversation with guardians, taking collegial steps to reach the right decision. And that takes time. “
At the home of John XXIII, between the fortified city of Besançon and Pasteur’s birthplace in Dole, Robb has a similar experience.
After the European Union, the use of the green light of the BioNTech-Pfizer vaccine in December, Robbie says it took two weeks to assemble all the pieces to vaccinate 14 residents this week, only a small fraction of the total over 100.
Obtaining consent was the biggest obstacle for a doctor and psychologist who went from room to room to discuss vaccinations, he said. Residents’ families received a week during the December holidays to approve or reject a decision that had to be unanimous by close family members.
When a woman’s daughter said yes, but her son said no, no shots were fired because “they could turn on us and say, ‘I never agreed to that,'” Rob said. “There is no consensus, we do not vaccinate.”
Only by cutting corners and perfectly forcing residents to agree can the process go faster, he says.
“My friends say, ‘What is this circus?’ “The Germans have already vaccinated 80,000 people, and we haven’t vaccinated anyone,” he said. “But we do not share the same story. When you offer a vaccine to Germans, they all want to be inoculated. There is a lot of restraint in France about the history of vaccinations. People are more skeptical. They need to understand. They need explanations and reassurance. “
France has given priority to old people’s homes, as they have seen nearly a third of deaths. But his first vaccination on December 27 on a 78-year-old woman in a long-term care institution, it quickly turned out to be just a symbolic start to implementation that the government never intended to do properly before this week.
It was not until Monday, as planned, that authorities launched an online platform where healthcare professionals must register all vaccinations and show that those who have been vaccinated have received a mandatory consultation with a doctor, which adds to the bureaucracy.
In some countries that are moving faster than France, the bureaucracy is weaker. In the UK, where nearly 1.5 million have been vaccinated and plans to offer stings to all residents of old people’s homes by the end of January, those who can agree only need to sign a one-page form. which provides basic information about the benefits and possible side effects.
No interviews with a doctor are needed in Spain. He started vaccinating on the same day as France, but administered the first 82,000 doses in the first nine days, while France succeeded in only a few thousand.
Germany, like France, also arranges a doctor’s appointment and prioritizes photos for residents of nursing homes, but it reaches them faster using mobile teams. At the current rate of nearly 30,000 vaccinations per day, it will take Germany at least six years to inoculate its 69 million adults. But while the German government has faced criticism for the perceived slow release, France has made an even more relaxed start, at least in numbers, but has promised to reach 1 million by the end of January.
Other countries have amassed more by offering photos of wider layers of people who are easier to reach and can be hired for meetings. Most of the more than 400,000 doses administered in Italy went to healthcare professionals.
Lucille Grion, who runs three nursing homes in eastern France, says the many hours invested in preparing vaccinations for 50 residents and employees who received samples on Friday were a good time. She works during the holidays to prepare.
“We can’t wait until we have the doses in our fridge to realize that we are not ready to vaccinate and then we have to throw away the doses and say, ‘Rats! Rats!’ I didn’t think of that, “she added. “Doses are too valuable.”
“It takes us two months to prepare for flu vaccines. “Here we were asked to set records, to be vaccinated against COVID in less than 15 days,” she said. “I don’t see how we can go faster.”
Writers for the Associated Press are Pan Pilas in London, Nicole Winfield in Rome, Ciaran Giles in Madrid and Kirsten Grishaber in Berlin.
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