Long queues are forming outside of vaccination centers as restrictions tighten

Foto: Radek Doležal, ČTK

Long queues are forming at Prague’s vaccination centers without registration in the Westfield Chodov shopping centre and at the main railway station on Saturday. An employee at the vaccination centre in Chodov said before noon that the waiting time for the Covid-19 vaccine is at least an hour and a half and the interest is the highest he has seen so far.

A security guard at Prague’s main train station estimated the waiting time at up to several hours. People on both fronts generally agree that circumstances, especially the tightening of anti-epidemic measures, have forced them to get the vaccine.

As of Monday, in many places, a test will no longer be enough; proof of having contracted Covid in the last six months or a vaccination certificate will be required. “I wouldn’t have voluntarily gotten the jab, but the state simply forced me to. If I want to live a somewhat normal life from Monday, I have no other choice, “said one of the people waiting in Chodov. He came to get his first dose of the vaccine.

The two-dose vaccine from Pfizer is available to those aged 16 and over. A man who accompanied his son for the vaccination took advantage of this. “I myself have already had the third dose of the vaccine, I was practically among the first to be vaccinated. With my son, we were forced to vaccinate, for example, because of school, but also because of other things and activities, “he said.

The vaccines are administered in Chodov by health professionals from the Institute of Clinical and Experimental Medicine (IKEM). 1.367 people were vaccinated on Friday at the vaccination centre. “This is the most since July 12. The queue at Chodov was dominated by younger people, who often came for their first dose of vaccine.

In the lobby of the main station, medics inject a single-dose Janssen from Johnson & Johnson. The vaccination site is run by Bulovka University Hospital. It was the opportunity to be vaccinated with a single vaccine that attracted Petra. “The advantage is that I don’t have to deal with a second dose of the vaccine and I can fulfill what the state asks me to do,” she said.

But this week, Health Minister Adam Vojtěch (ANO) pointed out that the ministry had requested the opinion of the State Institute for Drug Control on the single-dose Janssen vaccine. Experts have been discussing shorter protection after the single-dose vaccine, and immunologist Zdeněk Hel mentioned it on Twitter last week. He recommends re-vaccination after two months. This information was new to Petra, but it did not prevent her from taking Janssen. “Who knows what they’ll approve again, and there’ll also be a new government that might see things differently,” she commented.

Health ministry data shows that Friday saw the highest number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the country during the epidemic. Laboratories detected 22,936 infected people, about 8,700 more than a week ago.

Due to the rapidly worsening epidemic situation, tests for Covid-19 will no longer be recognized as proof of infection free status from Monday. People will now only have to show a complete vaccination or proof of having contracted Covid in the last six months when entering restaurants, hotels, service establishments, or mass events. Testing in schools will continue and unvaccinated employees in companies will also be tested regularly.