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The decision to get vaccinated is a free choice

A press conference held to provide a COVID-19 update was attended by Minister of Health Janez Poklukar and Professor Borut Štrukelj from the Faculty of Pharmacy in Ljubljana.

Minister Poklukar began by presenting the current situation in hospitals and said that the situation is currently stable, and that the number of hospitalised patients has even decreased in recent days. Some challenges remain in the field of intensive care, because there is a delay between increases in the number of hospitalised patients and the subsequent increases in the number of patients in intensive care. The same delay occurs in the restoration of the initial situation in hospitals. There are currently thirteen active COVID hospitals.

The minister further explained the reasons leading to the introduction of the recovered/vaccinated/tested rule and emphasised that it was the only tool available to the Government to keep life in Slovenia functioning normally. The only other alternative would be a full lockdown, which none of us can imagine any more, which none of us want and which we as a society cannot afford. Another lockdown would result in a severe economic crisis and unemployment. He added that the difference between the implementation and non-implementation of the recovered/vaccinated/tested rule would put the lives of more than a thousand inhabitants of Slovenia at stake.

Mr Poklukar emphasised that the recovered/vaccinated/tested rule and other measures are a step in the right direction towards controlling the COVID-19 epidemic and keeping society open, which makes their consistent enforcement necessary.

In conclusion, he called on all Slovenia’s residents to exercise their right and inquire about all their concerns regarding vaccines and vaccinations with their personal doctor or at vaccination sites. He stressed that the decision to get vaccinated is a free choice.

Professor Borut Štrukelj from the Faculty of Pharmacy in Ljubljana presented the latest information in the field of drugs and vaccines against COVID-19. He said that the European Medicines Agency (EMA) is expected to issue a positive opinion on the Novavax vaccine, which uses a semi-traditional approach, by the end of November. The EMA is reportedly also concluding a review of a traditional vaccine by the Chinese company Sinopharm. The problem highlighted by the EMA is the unresponsiveness of manufacturers to the issues raised by the EMA as a regulator. The third vaccine under consideration is Sanofi, which is also a partially traditional vaccine.

Štrukelj emphasised that although vaccines are safe and effective, they show very rare undesired side effects. Vector vaccines, which include Janssen, AstraZeneca and Sputnik, may cause blood clots in the brain and low platelet counts in the body. Rare side effects of modern MRNa vaccines such as Pfizer and Moderna include myocarditis or pericarditis, i.e. inflammation of the heart muscle or pericardium. This rare undesired side effect occurs predominantly in young men, so regulators in Sweden and Denmark have decided to withdraw Moderna. The first drugs against COVID-19 are in the confirmation phase as well.