Monday, 14 June 2021

Capak: AstraZeneca Shouldn't Be Administered Only To People With Capillary Bleeding

June 14th, 2021 - The head of the Croatian Public Health Institute, Krunoslav Capak, commented on the European Medicines Agency's (EMA) position that countries should avoid administering the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine to people over 60 due to concern related to rare cases of blood clotting.

"As far as I know, it has only been decided that people with so-called capillary bleeding, which is an infrequent disorder connected with the lack of certain blood proteins, should not be inoculated with the AstraZeneca vaccine," Capak said.

He added that contrary to reports on some Croatian web portals over the weekend, EMA did not conclude that the AstraZeneca vaccine would not be administered to people over 65.

"Now that incidence in Europe is much lower than it was when vaccination with the AstraZeneca vaccine started, the relative risks have been changing slightly for those who get infected and possibly develop a serious form of the disease and those who get vaccinated and develop a serious side effect," he said.

"Since those relative risks have changed, it is necessary to discuss the matter again at the European and national levels," the HZJZ head said in Virovitica-Podravina County, where he attended the start of a vaccination campaign by mobile teams visiting smaller communities by bus to inoculate their residents.

Capak was accompanied by Health Minister Vili Beroš, who dismissed claims on social networks that he did not fully pay his bill in a Zadar café which he left in protest at the fact that waiters were not wearing face masks.

Health minister comments on incident in Zadar café

"I talked to the cafe owner this morning. I did not leave the establishment without paying my bill in full," Beroš said.

"What kind of health minister would I be if I had stayed in the cafe... with waiters not wearing face masks," he said, explaining that he had kindly asked the waitress taking his order to put on a face mask but she ignored the request.

He noted that there were foreign guests in the cafe whose perception of Croatia was also formed on the basis of compliance with anti-epidemic measures.

As for questions if workers should wear face masks outdoors, Beroš said that that was necessary because waiters serving food and drinks in the open did so at less than two metres or a metre and a half from their guests.

For all, you need to know about coronavirus specific to Croatia, including travel, border, and quarantine rules, as well as the locations of vaccination points and testing centers up and down the country, make sure to bookmark our dedicated COVID-19 section and select your preferred language.

Friday, 21 May 2021

Croatian Vaccination Process - What if I'm Away for my Second Dose?

May the 21st, 2021 - Just how is the Croatian vaccination process going and what is the situation for those who will be leaving their registered place of residence during summer, but need to get their second dose?

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, what will the Croatian vaccination process and receiving the second dose of the vaccine look like in the upcoming season which will be full of summer holidays in Croatia with people staying for longer periods outside of their place of residence? All of that was explained the Croatian Institute of Public Health, which has informed people to contact the health services of their places of registered residence.

''There's a possibility that people who will be outside of their place of residence during their planned second dose of the vaccine can be vaccinated before or after going to the coast or even when on holiday with a doctor of their choice or at public health institutes if the recommended vaccination interval allows,'' the Institute stated.

The recommended interval between the first and second dose of Comirnaty (Pfizer) is three to six weeks, Moderna four weeks (it can be extended to six weeks if necessary), and for Vaxzevria (AstraZeneca) that recommended interval is between four and twelve weeks.

More practically, the Janssen Johnson & Johnson vaccine is administered in just one single dose.

In case of urgent need, it is okay for all of these vaccines to deliver a second dose four days before the earliest recommended date. Alternatively, people can be vaccinated at the place where they will be staying at the scheduled time for their second dose of the vaccine.

''We'd like to note that the organisation and planning of vaccination, given the distribution plan and characteristics of these vaccines (which arrive in certain quantities which are planned for) we require advance information about the planned number of doses and types of vaccines.

Therefore, we'd like to ask people to announce and pre-arrange their second dose of the vaccination with doctors in their place of temporary residence, or at the competent health centre at that location, so that the necessary additional doses can be planned and provided, with a request to understand that this may not always be possible at the requested time,'' they stated from the Institute as the Croatian vaccination process picks up its pace.

Just what will this procedure look like in practice when it comes to tourist areas, primarily in Primorje-Gorski Kotar County, whose tourist destinations on the coast and islands see population increases of several times during the summer? Dr. Vladimir Micovic answered this for Novi List.

''The idea is for people to be vaccinated before they leave their places of residence and to get vaccinated in the areas where they live. But of course, if they find themselves in our area, we'll do our best to get them the necessary vaccine. At this end, we'll open up some additional channels for communication. So far, in some cases, we've vaccinated people who don't have registered residence in this area, as well as foreign citizens who live here,'' Micovic explained.

For more on the Croatian vaccination process, make sure to follow our lifestyle section.

For all you need to know about coronavirus specific to Croatia, including travel, border and quarantine rules, as well as the locations of testing centres and vaccination points up and down the country, make sure to bookmark our dedicated COVID-19 section and select your preferred language.

Thursday, 20 May 2021

HZJZ: One in Three Adults Vaccinated

ZAGREB, 20 May 2021 - As of today, every third adult in Croatia has been vaccinated against COVID-19, the Croatian Public Health Institute (HZJZ) said on Thursday.

On Wednesday, 19 May, 43,890 doses of the vaccine were used, and the number of persons that have received at least one dose reached 1,109,161, which is 27% of the population or 33% of the adult population, while 341,008 persons have received both doses.

According to data from the eCijepih platform, as of 20 May, every third adult in Croatia has been vaccinated, which is a big step forward compared to early May, when on 1 May every fifth adult citizen of Croatia had been vaccinated, the HZJZ said.

First dose vaccine coverage is highest in Zagreb, 31% of the total population or 37.6% of the adult population, and second dose vaccine coverage is highest in Sisak-Moslavina County, 12% of the population or 14.4% of adults.

"These are encouraging data that give us reason for optimism when it comes to meeting the goal of vaccinating over a half of Croatia's adult population by the end of June. Vaccination is going according to plan, the epidemiological situation is better than in previous weeks and this is certainly good news, especially in the context of the upcoming tourist season," said HZJZ deputy director Ivana Pavić Šimetin.

For all you need to know about coronavirus specific to Croatia, including travel, border and quarantine rules, as well as the locations of vaccination points and testing centres up and down the country, make sure to bookmark our dedicated COVID-19 section and choose your preferred language.

Friday, 14 May 2021

Zagreb to be Included in Producing DNA Templates

ZAGREB, 14 May, 2021 - The head of the Zagreb-based Hospital for Infectious Diseases, Alemka Markotić,  said on Friday that the European Commission would in future be authorised for the purchase and distribution of the Pfizer vaccine and that Zagreb would be one of the centres included in producing DNA templates.

That means that only mRNA vaccines will be used in the EU, not because the AstraZeneca vaccine is not of a good quality but to ensure secure production and the possibility of responding quickly to new variants of the virus given that a vaccine can be produced within 100 days, said Markotić.

In addition to a high level of antibodies that remain for about six months, it is worthwhile developing cell immunity, which need not be the case with certain vaccines, she said.

"In 2022 and 2023, Zagreb will be one of the centres that will be included in the phase of producing DNA templates, which is important for Croatia's tradition and for Zagreb regarding the production of vaccines," she underscored.

For more about health in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Thursday, 13 May 2021

No More AstraZeneca in Croatia as of Summer as EU Contract Expires

May the 13th, 2021 - There will be no more AstraZeneca in Croatia as of summer, more precisely as of next month, as the contract between the European Union (EU) and AstraZeneca is set to expire. Here are what those who have received their first dose of AstraZeneca in Croatia need to do in order to get their second one.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, after June 2021, the European Union's contract with AstraZeneca will expire and there will be no new orders for these vaccines until further notice, European Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton recently revealed.

There will, however, continue to be enough doses of this vaccine for those who have to receive a second dose of AstraZeneca in Croatia, the director of the Croatian Institute of Public Health, Krunoslav Capak, assured on Monday. The answer from the Croatian Institute of Public Health says that despite the expiration of the EU's contract with AstraZeneca looming, all 2.7 million doses of this vaccine ordered last year will arrive in Croatia as normal and at intervals.

This was also confirmed by Croatian Health Minister Vili Beros, 24sata reports.

"Through the joint procurement of the European Commission (EC), a total of 2.705 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine were ordered for Croatia, and this agreement is still in force. In case of possible changes, we'll be sure to inform the public following the decision of the European Commission,'' Beros explained when conveying the information he received on the topic of AstraZeneca in Croatia.

There should be no problems for anyone needing their second dose of AstraZeneca in Croatia, because the country has used only 258 thousand of the 460 thousand doses of this vaccine received so far.

The director of the Andrija Stampar Institute, Zvonimir Sostar, added that 21 thousand additional doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine will arrive in Croatia this week and he believes that enough will still be found for all those requiring their second dose.

On Monday, he says, fewer people came to the Zagreb Fair (Zagrebacki Velesajam) for their first dose of vaccination against the novel coronavirus than were invited. He has stated that he believes that this is precisely because of the unpopularity of this particular vaccine and that owing to that, enough of it will be left to provide people with their second dose when that time comes.

For all you need to know about coronavirus specific to Croatia, including travel, border and quarantine rules, as well as the locations of testing centres and vaccination points up and down the country, make sure to bookmark our dedicated COVID-19 section and select your preferred language.

Wednesday, 5 May 2021

Vaccine Information For Those Who Got First Dose at the Zagreb Fair

May 5, 2021 - People in Zagreb are getting their vaccines against the novel coronavirus, and the ‘‘Dr. Andrija Štampar’’ Institute has some vaccine information for them.

The vaccination process is continuing across all regions of Croatia to combat the novel coronavirus, even after a few weeks of uncertainty marked by problems with the vaccination portal One of the vaccination points in the capital is at the Zagreb Fair, and those in charge have vaccine information about both doses for those who attend this vaccination point.

According to Our World in Data, as of 4 May, 944,398 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in Croatia, with 734,556 people receiving the first dose and 209,842 receiving both doses.

As reported by, the "Dr. Andrija Štampar" Institute wants to inform all citizens of the City of Zagreb who have been vaccinated with the first dose at the vaccination point at the Zagreb Fair that they have been referred for vaccination with the second dose. The term of vaccination with the second dose was defined in accordance with the recommendations of the Croatian Institute of Public Health.

Citizens can check the exact date for their second dose of vaccination at the Fair via the e-Citizens system, by calling the toll-free number 0800 8804 or via their selected family doctor (GP).

The "Dr. Andrija Štampar" Institute has also noted that the second dose of vaccination at the vaccination point at the Zagreb Fair is being organised exclusively for people who have already received their first dose of vaccine at that point. People without an referral term will not be vaccinated there due to limited organisational capacity.

In addition, "Stampar" has asked citizens to strictly adhere to the referral deadlines in order to avoid unnecessary crowds and for the purpose of more consistent adherence to epidemiological measures and recommendations.

For all you need to know about coronavirus specific to Croatia, including travel, border and quarantine rules, as well as the locations of vaccination points and testing centres across the country, make sure to bookmark our dedicated COVID-19 section.

Monday, 19 April 2021

Devastating Vaccination Figures in Croatia for Over 65 Age Group

April 19, 2021 - Croatia is already beginning its third phase of vaccination, but the vaccination figures in Croatia regarding the over 65 age group are hardly satisfactory. 

Jutarnji List reports that in the second phase of vaccination, which ended in most parts of the country, only 38.6 percent of people over the age of 65 were vaccinated. However, according to data provided by the Croatian Institute of Public Health, the vaccine was offered to everyone.

According to estimates, 853,784 people over the age of 65 live in Croatia, and at least one dose of the vaccine was received by 329,367, or 38.6 percent, according to the CNIPH. Only 6.6 percent of those over 65 received both doses of the vaccine, but they are expected to receive a second dose. These are data until April 12.

Thus, a few days before the end of the second phase of vaccination, as many as 61.4 percent of people over 65 did not receive the vaccine.

While CNIPH did not explain why, experts are convinced that most of the problem lies in the fact that vaccination candidates have massively refused to receive the AstraZeneca vaccine, which Croatia had the most of. 

In short, at the time we start the third phase of vaccination, which includes the general population and priority vaccinations of employees in certain sectors, such as tourism and education, Croatia's seniors are not vaccinated satisfactorily.

A bad image of this vaccine has been created in the public, which is why all HZJZ vaccination lines are overwhelmed by calls for rejections for AstraZeneca.

"People are ready to be vaccinated, but when they are told that they will get AstraZeneca, they give up; that is, they say that they will wait for another vaccine. Initially, after the approval of AstraZeneca, it was rejected only by the elderly because then it was questionable whether it affects people over 65. After the story with clots appeared, the vaccine is also rejected by the younger ones," said HZJZ unofficially. 

The Ministry of Health also confirmed a few days ago that the problem is with people refusing the AstraZenecina vaccine.

"Irrespective of when the application is registered on the platform, senior citizens and patients with chronic diseases have priority, and invitations to young people and those without chronic diseases are sent only in case those from the priority groups refuse to fill the capacity of the mass vaccination point at the Zagreb Fair. This is the sole reason for getting an appointment at a mass vaccination point with individual citizens from the younger group concerning the priority group. Such a principle will be followed in the next calls for vaccinations at the checkpoint," said the relevant Ministry.

In the priority phase, which ended a long time ago, 52,449 health workers were vaccinated, or 71.4 percent of them, which means that almost every third health worker was not vaccinated.

"The highest vaccination coverage was achieved for people aged 80 and over, of whom more than 44 percent received the first or second dose," said the CNIPH.

The data show that confidence in the vaccine declines with age. Thus, the highest share of vaccinated is among those over 100 years of age: out of 142 of them living in Croatia, 84 or 59 percent were vaccinated. Half of our citizens aged 95 to 99, of whom there are 1,630, were vaccinated, while 48 percent of those aged 90 to 94 were vaccinated. The least vaccinated in the priority group are those aged 65 to 69, where only 73,979 or 28 percent of the total of 267,320 have been vaccinated so far. Confidence in the vaccine grows with age so that the next monitored age group of 70 to 74 has a vaccine share of 43 percent.

Prime Minister Andrej Plenković pointed out that the goal is to vaccinate 55 percent of the total adult population by July 1. Is this possible with such a response?

"Our goal is to vaccinate more than 50 or 55 percent of the adult population with the first dose by at least July 1, and with those that have recovered, we could talk about very significant protection of the population from COVID-19," said the Prime Minister.

But to reach that percentage, they would have to vaccinate 17,747 citizens a day. It is logistically feasible, given that Zagreb alone can vaccinate ten thousand people a day, but the question is whether there will be enough interested people. Only about 150,000 citizens are registered on the platform, and the numbers are as follows: According to the latest CBS estimate, Croatia has slightly less than 3.4 million adult citizens (3,364,426), and 55 percent of that number is 1,850,434.

When the already vaccinated are taken away, it follows that 1,331,059 citizens should be immunized by July 1. Despite all the problems, it is positive that many additional doses of the Pfizer vaccine have been procured, which citizens are more inclined to get. According to the latest data, 1.8 million doses of the vaccine should arrive in Croatia by the end of June.

"Pfizer has increased the availability of vaccines for Croatia. From the fourth week of April, these doses will be significantly higher, or about 100 thousand doses; in May, Croatia will receive 175 thousand doses, and in June, 200 thousand doses per week. We will receive a total of 1.805 million doses by the end of June," said the director of the CNIPH, Krunoslav Capak.

For more about Covid-19 in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Wednesday, 7 April 2021

PM Andrej Plenković: "Decision to Return Child to Biological Family Was Bad"

ZAGREB, 7 April, 2021 - PM Andrej Plenković said on Wednesday, in a comment on the death of a 2.5-year-old girl caused by domestic violence, that the decision to return the child to its biological family was bad and that those who made it should bear the consequences, noting that social care did not require a separate ministry.

"I don't know why the proposal to separate social care from the 'mega-ministry' is being made," Plenković told reporters in the parliament.

He recalled that in 2013, during the term of the Zoran Milanović government, a case similar to the last one happened in Slavonski Brod, and at the time there was a separate ministry of social care.

When they lack arguments, people make banal, nonsensical statements, Plenković said, adding that Labour, Pension System, Family and Social Policy Minister Josip Aladrović was capable of heading the ministry because the ministry had its services, directors, state secretaries and social welfare centres across Croatia.

"In this specific case with a fatal outcome, the assessment and decision to return the little girl to her biological family was a bad one and for that kind of professional mistake responsibility lies with those who make it," he said.

Plenković went on to say that since the case of an incident on Pag Island in 2019, when a father threw his four underage children from the first-storey balcony of his house, a lot had changed in the social care system.

"During the terms of ministers (Nada) Murganić, (Vesna) Bedeković and now Minister Aladrović, we have worked to strengthen the system of social care. We have worked to raise social workers' wages as well as standards of physical and technical security, so now welfare centres have guards," he said.

The government has increased outlays for social care and allowances and it expects the system to function better and to the benefit of children, he said.

Unfortunately, there are problems, there are dysfunctional families, horrible things are done by biological parents but they will all answer for their actions in a legal procedure, Plenković said, adding that he was appalled and extremely saddened by the latest case.

Speaking of illogical provisions in the foster care law, adopted by his government, Plenković said that every legal solution could be improved.

It is important to speed up foster care procedures and that all children who live in environments that are not appropriate and not safe find a safe place to live. We will improve the law. There is always something to improve, he said.

AstraZeneca vaccine

Plenković also talked about a decision the European Medicines Agency is expected to make on the age groups for which the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine is acceptable.

He said he would meet today with Health Minister Vili Beroš and the directors of the Croatian Institute of Public Health and the Croatian agency for medicinal products to discuss the information they had, and that later today Beroš would participate in a video conference of EU health ministers.

"The most important thing is that the member states' ministers of health have a consolidated position, whatever the EMA's recommendation, and that there are no different practices. Different practices undermine the reputation of a vaccine, whatever its quality, which has happened with AstraZeneca from the start, unfortunately."

Plenković said the confusion about that vaccine had resulted in some people refusing it, which was not pleasant either for the company or anyone involved in vaccination.

He also responded to criticism that he had promised that a majority of the Croatian population would be vaccinated by spring yet had now postponed this until July.

He said AstraZeneca had promised to deliver 120 million doses to the EU in the first quarter but delivered 30 million. Croatia was to have received 1.7 million doses by 31 March and vaccinated more than 800,000 people, he added.

Plenković said 600,000 doses had been delivered and that 2.6 million would be by 30 June, adding that the government was working on having other vaccines available in case of more problems with AstraZeneca.

"Had we ordered 100% from each company and paid for 25 million doses, then all questions would have been - whose money are we spending and why are we buying three or four times as many doses as we need?"

He said an unforeseen thing had happened, not with a no-name company but one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world.

Central bank governor, fighter jets, former JANAF CEO's arrest

Asked if he had known about central bank governor Boris Vujčić's correspondence with representatives of the Knighthead fund concerning the Agrokor conglomerate, Plenković said the question should be put to Vujčić.

Speaking of the procurement of fighter jets, he said consultations were under way and that a decision would be made in time. All offers are valid and we'll take some more time to decide, he added.

Asked to comment on the new arrest of Dragan Kovačević, former CEO of the JANAF oil pipeline operator, Plenković said everything about it should be said by the USKOK anti-corruption office and the State Attorney's Office.

For more about politics in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Wednesday, 7 April 2021

Krunoslav Capak Discusses Croatian Approach to AstraZeneca Vaccine

April the 7th, 2021 - Krunoslav Capak, the director of the Croatian Institute of Public Health, has spoken out about potential changes to the Croatian attitude towards the AstraZeneca vaccine, about which there has been many questions.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic held a video meeting with representatives of the Croatian National Civil Protection Headquarters, all county prefects and heads of county public health institutes regarding the fight against the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the distribution of upcoming doses of vaccines.

The meeting was also attended by the Croatian Minister of Health Vili Beros and the Director of the CNIPH Krunoslav Capak, who gave their statements after the meeting.

“We talked to the prefects and directors of the county institutes about the vaccination process. Significantly larger quantities are coming at the beginning of the week, we wanted to oblige them to be organisationally prompt and ready for the arrival of larger quantities of vaccines. A little less than 100,000 doses will come this week, and 490,000 doses by the end of the month,'' explained Beros.

Beros also commented on the connection between AstraZeneca and concerning complaints such as blood clots.

"We're following everything that's happening, but before we can come to any conclusions we need to wait for the official position of the EMA and its regulatory bodies. We talked about it too, all the options are on the table. In order to act, we must get clear and unquestionable information from the EMA,'' said Beros, adding that any vaccine is a salvation at this moment as the pandemic rages on globally.

"Whoever collects all of the documentation and monitors the side effects can give an assessment. I'd suggest that we wait for what will happen from the EMA,'' said Krunoslav Capak.

“It's very difficult to decide on a suspension [of the AstraZeneca vaccine], it's possible that something will be changed for the recommendation and instructions for the use of that particular vaccine. If something like that happens, it will come in the form of a recommendation for certain age groups to not receive that vaccine,'' explained Krunoslav Capak.

He also said they had instructed that the third phase of the coronavirus vaccination process could begin immediately given the large quantities of vaccines arriving.

"Defacto, we're starting with the third phase of vaccination," Beros added before referring to the meeting with wholesalers.

"At the moment, we aren't thinking about increasing healthcare contributions. Today's meeting is a clear signal that we want to work together to solve this problem. The meeting was held in a constructive tone and Finance Minister Maric left the possibility of additional funds that would ensure the regular functioning of wholesalers according to the healthcare system open,'' concluded Minister Vili Beros.

For more information on coronavirus specific to Croatia, including travel, border and quarantine rules, as well as testing centre locations across the country, bookmark this page.

Friday, 26 March 2021

PM Andrej Plenković: Croatia Received Only 17% of Vaccine Doses Ordered From AstraZeneca

ZAGREB, 26 March, 2021 - Croatia has received only 17% of coronavirus vaccine doses ordered from AstraZeneca, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković told a press conference on Friday.

The European Union has ordered 120 million doses of the vaccine from AstraZeneca and has received only 30 million, which is why Croatia lacks the vaccine, Plenković said.

Permanent representatives to the European Union have been tasked with arranging the distribution of 10 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine as soon as possible, in a spirit of solidarity, the prime minister said, reporting on the results of the EU summit held on Thursday.

About 405 million people live in countries that do not have a problem with vaccines and about 40 million in countries that have not received the amounts of vaccines ordered, so these 10 million doses would resolve the problem for the countries that are not receiving vaccines, while the others would not feel they missed something, he added.

In a joint statement on Thursday, EU leaders asked the ambassadors to the EU to resolve the problem of distribution of 10 million doses of the vaccine that BioNTech/Pfizer will deliver in the second quarter of the year instead of the second half.

"That means that those who have less will get more," Plenković said, adding that the aim was to compensate the countries that have ordered the most vaccine from AstraZeneca and less from other manufacturers.

About six or seven countries should be compensated, including Croatia, which would help achieve even vaccine coverage within the EU, the Croatian PM said.

Plenković denied claims that Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz used strong language at the meeting. Kurz was the first EU leader to draw attention to the uneven distribution of vaccines among the EU member states.

Plenković denied the speculation that the agreement would have been reached already yesterday had it not been for the Austrian chancellor's statement. "No, that was not possible, technically. Had we been physically present in Brussels - maybe, there would have been breaks and we would have explained things to one another."

"Anyway, this will be sorted. Pfizer will fill in the gap created by AstraZeneca's failure to meet its obligations," the PM said, adding that Bulgaria should get the most doses.

With the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine doses as compensation, Croatia hopes to vaccinate 50% of its population by 30 June, which would put it on a level with the EU.

For more about vaccinations in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

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