The Czech Republic will halve the waiting time to get a second dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine to three weeks, Health Minister Adam Vojtech said on Monday, as the country races to boost vaccinations and fend off new coronavirus variants.
The country has administered at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccines to 48% of its total population, lagging the European Union average. The Pfizer vaccine has been the most widely used.
Like others, the central European country is aiming to boost vaccination numbers before the autumn and as new coronavirus infections slowly start to rise again, hoping to get younger people inoculated.
As part of this effort, the government on Monday opened two new vaccination centres in Prague – one at the main railway station and another at a shopping mall – for walk-ins, requiring no registration beforehand.
“We are looking for all ways to make vaccinations accessible to people and reach those who have not yet shown an interest,” Prime Minister Andrej Babis said.
Almost 36% of the 10.7 million population has been fully vaccinated since the end of December 2020. Around 100,000 to 120,000 shots a day were administered during the workweek in June, although the start of the summer holidays led to a slight drop last week.
The Czech Republic went through some of the world’s worst waves of the coronavirus pandemic on a per capita basis between October and March. Daily infections then sometimes surpassed 10,000.
The Health Ministry reported 147 new COVID cases on Sunday, a slight rise from the previous two Sundays.
Younger age groups – unlikely to be vaccinated – have mainly appeared among those infected, officials say, and the country’s “R” reproduction rate, at 1.46, is the highest since October, with health officials warning of the more transmissible Delta variant.