Sluggish Swiss jab rates up despite anti-vaxxer sabotage

A man receives a Covid jab in a converted restaurant.
Switzerland launched a nationwide vaccine week, which produced positive results despite sabotage attempts from anti-vaxxers. Photo: DENIS CHARLET / AFP
Switzerland's large scale 'vaccination week' concluded on Sunday, with results showing an uptick in vaccinations despite attempts by anti-vaccination groups to sabotage the efforts.

Battling a surge in Covid-19 cases, Switzerland’s week-long immunisation drive nudged up its vaccination rate, figures showed Monday, as the president accepted that few more people may come forward for jabs.

The wealthy Alpine nation launched a “vaccination week” to address the drop-off in uptake of the jab in recent months.

The number of Covid-19 vaccine doses administered during last week’s nationwide push was up 38 percent on the week before, Monday’s health ministry figures showed, according to the ATS national news agency.

EXPLAINED: What will Switzerland’s ‘vaccine week’ look like?

Switzerland had just 10 percent of the population fully vaccinated by April 23, racing to 50 percent three months later on July 29.

But in the subsequent months that swift progress has tailed off drastically. Halfway through November, 65 percent of the Swiss population are now fully vaccinated, with a further two percent having had their first dose of a two-jab course.

With case rates having near-quadrupled since mid-October, the Swiss authorities fear an overload of hospital cases as the winter kicks in.

President Guy Parmelin told Sunday’s NZZ am Sonntag newspaper that it could soon be time to accept that few more people will come forward for vaccination, forcing the country to “limit the damage and promote other measures”, including booster vaccine doses, which could be offered from December to all those fully jabbed.

Covid booster vaccinations in Switzerland: What you need to know

During vaccination week, Parmelin urged anti-vaxxers to quit ‘clowning around’.

He criticised the suspected sabotage of a free concert organised in Lausanne to promote the vaccine drive.

Anti-vaxxers were believed to have reserved most of the seats but then left them empty.

Speaking at a news conference, Parmelin urged anti-vaxxers to rein themselves in, saying: “Are you not yet done with this clowning around?”

It was an unusually strong tone from the president and underlined the increasing hostility ahead of a public vote at the end of this month on Switzerland’s Covid restrictions.

A march through Geneva on Saturday in opposition to anti-Covid measures drew around 2,500 protesters, according to the police, with organisers giving double that figure.

Some 10,900 people have died in Switzerland due to the virus while some 914,800 positive tests have been recorded.


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