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Why Swiss officials are fearing a ‘revolution of the vaccinated’

According to an internal report, the Swiss government is fearful of protests among the vaccinated. Here’s why.

Why Swiss officials are fearing a ‘revolution of the vaccinated’
Should vaccinated people be upset if they need to lockdown again due to anti-vaxxers? Photo: Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP

Protests have been common since the early days of the pandemic. 

Whether these have been against the measures, against the vaccine for the virus or even denying the existence of the virus themselves, these protests have largely been populated by conspiracy theorists and far-right groups. 

However, according to a new internal government report, Switzerland is fearing an uprising of those who have already been vaccinated. 

Why are Swiss authorities fearing a “revolution of the vaccinated”? 

So why would people who acknowledge the existence of the virus and understand its dangers enough to get vaccinated start to protest? 

READ MORE: How to register for the coronavirus vaccine in your Swiss canton

According to the leaked report, the reason is simple: vaccinated people may become increasingly upset when they are required to adopt harsher lockdown measures primarily because large sections of the population continue to refuse to be vaccinated. 

Officials are concerned about a rise in infections, hospitalisations and even deaths in autumn when the weather turns colder and people return from summer vacations. 

The “new wave” of the virus is likely to be exacerbated by the fact that fewer people have been vaccinated than Switzerland expected, while the Delta variant is spreading much faster than had been expected. 

Due to this it will be “very difficult to prevent a renewed increase in hospital occupancy due to Covid-19 in the hospitals in autumn”. 

As a consequence, Switzerland is mulling additional restrictions in order to curb the rising case rates, including strict lockdowns. 

This is expected to cause concern among those who have already been vaccinated, primarily because only those who have decided not to get vaccinated are likely to be hit hard by another wave of the virus. 

The leaked document predicts “further protests” if lockdowns are reintroduced, “probably also among the vaccinated part of the population”, which Swiss media is calling “a revolution of the vaccinated”. 

With just under 50 percent of people fully vaccinated in Switzerland – and a further six percent having received their first shot – almost half of the Swiss population remains unvaccinated, amounting to a total of around three million people. 

Evidence from Europe and elsewhere shows that while those who have been vaccinated can contract the virus again, they are hit by comparatively milder symptoms. 

They can however carry and transmit the virus in some cases, which would place those who have not been vaccinated – particularly those who cannot be vaccinated due to health reasons – at a greater risk if lockdown measures are not reintroduced. 

As reported by The Local Switzerland in early August, prominent Swiss epidemiologists are calling for measures to be further relaxed, including the mask mandate for shops, supermarkets and museums. 

READ MORE: Will Switzerland relax the mask mandate in supermarkets, shops and museums?

Swiss Health Minister Alain Berset however said that he was reluctant to endorse such a policy change, particularly with case numbers currently on the rise. 

What measures could be introduced in autumn?  

At a press conference on Tuesday, August 3rd, Swiss authorities said they were considering which measures could be reintroduced should case numbers, hospitalisations and deaths rise again in August. 

The goal of reintroduced measures would be to ensure the health care system is not overloaded, said Lukas Engelberger, the president of the cantonal health directors. 

“When it gets cooler outside, we will see whether we are well positioned,” Engelberger said. 

However, the government was reluctant to indicate which measures could be tightened, however the government indicated it would consider putting in place different rules for vaccinated and unvaccinated people when everyone had the chance to get the vaccine. 

This might include requiring vaccinations for certain activities, rather than also allowing for negative tests and proof of recovery from the virus as is currently allowed in Switzerland. 

“It can become a topic that only those who have recovered and who have been vaccinated have access to major events. Otherwise testing becomes the new vaccination, and that’s not good,” said National Councilor Lorenz Hess. 

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COVID-19 VACCINES

Switzerland authorises Moderna vaccine for children over six

Children between the ages of six and 11 will now be able to get a Moderna shot, Swiss health authority said.

Switzerland authorises Moderna vaccine for children over six

Until now only the Pfizer vaccine has been approved in Switzerland for this group, starting at age five.

However, on Friday the country’s drug regulatory body, Swissmedic, gave the green light to start administering Moderna’s vaccine to children over six, who will receive two half doses of 50 micrograms at an interval of four weeks.

Those over 12 and adults are injected the full dose.

The agency said that based on clinical studies, young kids react to the Moderna vaccine much like older children and adults do.

“The most commonly reported side effects such as pain, redness or swelling at the injection site, fatigue, headache, shivering or nausea, were similar to those in adolescents and young adults”. Swissmedic said.

READ MORE: Everything you need to know about Covid vaccines for children in Switzerland

Also, “fever occurred more frequently in children, whereas muscle and joint pains were seen less often than in adolescents or adults. The undesirable effects were generally mild to moderate and lasted for a few days”.

While some parents may be reluctant to vaccinate their children against the coronavirus, health officials say the vaccines are safe. They also argue that in order to achieve herd immunity, all age groups should have their shots.

While the number of Covid infections has dropped significantly in Switzerland in the past two months, epidemiologists are predicting a new outbreak in the fall and winter, when cooler weather drives more people indoors, where the yet-unknown variants will be more transmissible.

READ MORE: How can I get my children vaccinated against Covid in Switzerland?

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