Coronavirus: who should be vaccinated first?

Three weeks after the start of the EU-wide vaccination campaign there is still a lively discussion about the right strategy. Commentators bemoan the lack of a coordinated approach and in each country the press criticises something different.

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Visão (PT) /

The elderly must come first

Age is irrelevant in Portugal's vaccination strategy. Visão is appalled:

“Finally anger is stirring in the population over the criteria of the national vaccination plan, because it still doesn't prioritise people over 80 for vaccination after health workers, as is being done in other European countries. ... It was already unacceptable that the discussion focused on giving priority to the armed forces and the police and on putting the main victims of Covid who account for 90 percent of the deaths in Portugal - people over 70 - last. Can there be any doubt that their vaccination is the absolute priority?”

Cumhuriyet (TR) /

Don't waste resources

Unlike in Portugal, in Turkey the elderly are being prioritised for vaccination. Cumhuriyet sees this as absurd:

“Medical staff go to enormous effort, driving through ice and snow to vaccinate a 90-year-old who lives in a remote village in the middle of nowhere. Who is he going to meet? Who is he going to catch the virus from? Yet the 30 to 40-year-old who works in cramped conditions in a factory, on a construction site, or in a mine, travels to work in crowded buses and sits next to ten other colleagues in the canteen has to wait his turn.”

Yetkin Report (TR) /

No chance of winning without global justice

In Yetkin Report, health advisor Nuriye Ortaylı refers to a recent study by the WHO:

“It finds that even if rich countries managed to vaccinate their entire populations they would have to bear half of the ongoing economic losses as long as other countries are not vaccinating their populations. The losses are estimated at nine trillion dollars. The study emphasises that all economies are interconnected, so the effects of the pandemic can't be eliminated anywhere unless they're eliminated everywhere. I can add something to that: until the virus is defeated everywhere it can't be defeated anywhere. Both economics and epidemiology point to one truth, namely justice.”

Spotmedia (RO) /

Show solidarity

In Romania a good 30 percent of vaccination appointments are not assigned via the central online portal but by those in charge of vaccination centres. Many now suspect that younger people have used the opportunity to jump the queue, which Spotmedia criticises as immoral:

“We cannot survive if we sacrifice those who are weaker than us. Because in that case we will no longer be part of a society, and can no longer be called civilized. ... How can someone bear the burden of having taken the vaccine away from an elderly, sick and person with no family just to for the sake of being able to go on holiday or go out for a beer with friends? ... The strength of an individual and a community shows itself in difficult times, not when all is rosy.”

Kleine Zeitung (AT) /


The Kleine Zeitung defends the Styrian deputies' plan to all get vaccinated together in February:

“The provincial government hasn't even seen a syringe yet, but there is already grumbling on the online forums that the privileged are jumping the queue. Or that the vaccine is needed more urgently elsewhere. No one doubts the latter argument. But it's not as if the deputies are breaking into the vaccine storage facilities to get their hands on 'the drugs'. Or sneaking undercover into retirement homes around Graz pretending in the hope of snagging a dose of the Pfizer vaccine. ... The genuine intention of the plan is to show doubters in Styria that the vaccine can be trusted. It makes sense to do this at the beginning of a vaccination campaign and not at the end.”

Diena (LV) /

Not people working from home

Latvia is also discussing whether politicians should be vaccinated quickly so that they can work with as few interruptions as possible. Diena is against the idea:

“Fortunately, we have long since ensured that ministers, members of parliament and other public servants are relatively comfortable with modern technologies and can easily work from home. ... Once the vaccine is available in larger quantities it would make sense for certain officials to receive it in a group vaccination. If ministers or MPs are vaccinated at a social facility as part of a larger vaccination campaign, it might also encourage residents and staff to follow suit. This would be both socially responsible and good for the vaccination campaign.”

Die Presse (AT) /

Not care workers, if that’s what they want

Commenting in Die Presse on the discussion over the unwillingness of care staff to get vaccinated, journalist Bettina Steiner points to what these people have been through over the last year:

“They were there where the virus was, with our bedridden grandparents. ... It is hard to understand why the people who have witnessed so much death and are still in the thick of it would refuse the vaccine. I have heard they are doing it out of spite. Because they feel let down and at least on this they want to be able to make their own decision, after others have decided for so long what risks they should take and under what circumstances. ... We have brought the spite of care workers upon ourselves. It's high time we started listening to their needs.”

Habertürk (TR) /

Teaching staff

In view of the fact that there have been no regular in-person classes in Turkey since March, it is unacceptable that teachers do not have more priority in the current vaccination plan, writes columnist Nagehan Alçı in Habertürk:

“Doesn't it strike you as odd that not just government ministers, but also law enforcement officers and private security guards are all to be vaccinated before teachers? ... With this logic it seems very unlikely that schools will be reopened by the spring. If we are a country that cares about the education of our children, the future generations of this country, we must put teachers at the top of the list. I implore the esteemed [Minister of Education] Ziya Selçuk: pound the table to put teachers at the top of the vaccination list so we can get the children out of the shopping malls, supermarkets and shops and back into school.”

Slate (FR) /

The young

Paris should look to the future when it comes to distributing the vaccine, urges Slate:

“How to justify the fact that these young people, 'the France of tomorrow' as they say, are being plunged into mental distress without anyone caring? ... These people are being sacrificed from a mental, economic and professional point of view. And who do you think will have to bring France out of the economic and social crisis that will plague us over the next decade as a result of the measures taken to combat the health crisis? ... Macron said it: first we must vaccinate the most vulnerable. By any logic these are the students. Once they're immunized, they can go back to their lives and will no longer pose the threat the government seems to have seen in them since the crisis began. ”

La Libre Belgique (BE) /

The key workers

In La Libre Belgique, blogger Jean-Marc Goffart makes the case for factoring economic recovery into the deliberations on a vaccination strategy:

“Wouldn't it be more efficient to give priority to vaccinating those who are responsible for others? Parents, teachers who could take care of their students again and hold their classes, workers, manufacturers, traders and all those that society needs to function normally again? Of course, medical staff should have absolute priority. ... Wages would be paid out again, the self-employed would start making money again. Social benefits could be scaled down. The elderly would be delighted to see their relatives again, who would no longer have to worry about infecting them.”