The good news came on Monday from the European Medicines Agency headquartered in Amsterdam: the Pfizer BioNTech anti-COVID-19 vaccine, already in use in Britain and the US, has been authorised, and EU member countries will be able to start their national vaccination campaigns this very week.
“This is an important step forward in our fight against this pandemic, which has caused suffering and hardship for so many,” said Emer Cooke, Executive Director of EMA. She said the vaccine safety criteria were the institution’s top priority, and provided another reassuring piece of information: for the time being, the mutation in Britain does not raise concerns regarding the vaccine efficacy.
EU member states announced plans to start vaccination on December 27. In Bucharest, the authorities say everything is in place to begin the vaccination campaign on that date. The first 10,000 shots are expected to reach the country on Saturday, and immunisation will begin with the healthcare staff on the frontline of the fight against the pandemic. The Romanian interim PM Nicolae Ciucă urged people to get their information on the vaccine from official sources.
Nicolae Ciucă: “Each of us plays a major role in the successful implementation of this campaign. So getting our information from safe, specialised sources, and having other sources of information available, we can all conclude that it is important for us to get the vaccine, if this pandemic is to end.”
Experts and officials plead for immunisation, highlighting the efficacy of the shot, the minimal risks compared to the benefits, and the possibility to return to what the world lost a year ago: a normal life. But vaccination against scepticism will likely be a lengthy process. Opinion polls across the EU have revealed reservations with respect to the vaccine.
Romania is no exception. According to a recent poll, over half of education employees are unwilling to get the vaccine. At national level, recent polls indicated that only one in five Romanians would get it, and 30% said they would wait for a while and get the vaccine only if they heard other people that have received the treatment had no problems. Conversely, among healthcare staff the vaccine acceptance rate is very high: 95% for the staff of COVID hospitals and 70% among the personnel of non-COVID hospitals. Experts say that for the pandemic to be eradicated, 70% of the population must receive the vaccine. (tr. A.M. Popescu)