Luxembourg says it has developed a specific procedure to administer leftover vaccine doses that includes several steps--but without a list, and without prior registration
Photo: Photo: Nader Ghavami / Maison Moderne / Archives
In Luxembourg's vaccination centres, people can be called in the evening to have an unused dose of vaccine injected--primarily on-site staff or ambulance attendants. But no waiting list is planned, unlike in France or Belgium.
In order to avoid wasting remaining vaccine doses at the end of the day, systems like Qvax in Belgium or Covidliste in France allow non-priority individuals to register on lists for vaccination. But this possibility is not open to Luxembourg--at least not in this form.
To ensure the quality, stability and integrity of the vaccine doses they must be administered during the day once a vial is started, the health ministry said in answer to a parliamentary question. “Thawed vaccines can no longer be refrozen, just as vaccines at room temperature can no longer be refrigerated again. Strict compliance with the cold chain is essential.”
To avoid unused doses going to waste, Luxembourg has therefore developed a specific procedure that includes several steps, but without a list and without prior registration.
First, the remaining doses are offered in the evening to staff at the vaccination centre (they are first offered to people in the priority vaccination group, before being offered to others).
Secondly, the doses can be offered to people in priority categories who do not work in the vaccination centre. The person in charge of the centre can also call 112 to find out if there are ambulance attendants or members of the CGDIS (Luxembourg's fire and rescue corps) belonging to the priority vaccination group nearby, and invite them to go to the vaccination centre.
Finally, if there are still doses left, the manager may contact people who do not fall into any of the above categories. "These people must have no family ties with the manager, the pharmacist, the administrative coordinator and the representative of the municipality and the respective vaccination centre," the health ministry specified.
The ministry does not have the number of remaining doses injected under this system--due to the numbers being too low, it said. But the procedure "has worked well so far." However, it is not without criticism, given the fact that the slowness of the Luxembourg vaccination campaign is sometimes singled out.
"Very marginal" losses
The opposition MP Sven Clement (Piratepartei) would thus prefer "neutral and transparent" digital system, "where people who wish it can register for the voluntary granting of a dose.”
In an interview with Paperjam earlier this month, Delano’s sister publication, Clement expressed his discontent with a procedure requiring the heads of the centre to operate via "manual sorting."
But the establishment of such a waiting list, in addition to posing problems of compliance with the protection of personal data, would not be necessary, at least "not for the moment", according to the health ministry. “To date, dose losses are to be considered very marginal,” it said. The consequence of "strict" procedures allows for "maximis[ing] the number of doses extracted per multidose vial" and "to minimise losses."
In France, according to the daily Ouest-France, the General Directorate of Health still assesses the loss of vaccine doses at 5%. And, still in France, 874 people, out of the 631,079 volunteers registered on the Covidliste site, were able to be put in contact with a vaccination centre to use the doses otherwise destined for waste.
It remains to be seen whether such a system will be sufficient in the future, when the number of doses delivered by the EU and the pace of vaccinations are theoretically expected to increase in the coming weeks.
This article was originally published in French on Paperjam and has been translated and edited for Delano.