Monday, 7 June 2021

Adult Population Vaccination Rate in Croatia to Reach 50% by End of June

June 7, 2021 – With many in Croatia hoping for a more relaxed summer than 2020, all eyes and ears are on the country's healthcare professionals. Here's some news from the COVID front and the adult population vaccination rate in Croatia.

The constant following COVID19 infections are getting rather tiring for everyone. Croatians have turned their attention massively towards the tourism season and summer as the only chance to enjoy a bit of rest and relaxation. As the strain on the health system starts to lessen, the questions surrounding the future of restrictions imposed on businesses grow more common.

It is evident the main factor for getting life back to normal will be the vaccination process. Index.hr reports on the latest trends. Their article quotes Diana Mayer, an epidemiologist with the Croatian Institute of Public Health. She expressed her satisfaction with the interest in vaccination. It is no secret there have been those opposing the vaccine in Croatia But it seems a bigger part of the population is willing to get vaccinated in hope of restrictions being lifted. The official data says 1,33 million Croatians have been vaccinated at least once, with roughly 564,000 of those receiving both doses. In a country of barely 4 million inhabitants, this is not a negligible result. According to Mayer, we are to see half of the population vaccinated by the end of June. Hopefully, this translates into a calmer Autumn.

Positive Trend

On Sunday the 6th of June 2021, there were 157 new cases of COVID19 infections in Croatia. The numbers seem to be going down, but it is way too early to draw any optimistic conclusions about the trends in near future. The waiting time for people who register for vaccination is also declining. Epidemiologist Mayer said this is not due to the decline of interest. More positive news comes from KB Dubrava (Clinical Hospital Dubrava), the largest COVID hospital in Croatia. KB Dubrava is to resume its normal function today and starts receiving non-COVID19 patients after 217 days. Let's hope this is just the beginning of a long-lasting positive trend.

 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 and select your preferred language.

Friday, 4 June 2021

Croatian Vaccine Rollout Soon to be Carried Out in New Way

June the 4th, 2021 - The Croatian vaccine rollout has been picking up its pace from its rather slow and problematic beginnings earlier this year, and with the numbers remaining favourable and epidemiological situation remaining somewhat stable, a new way of vaccinating Croatia's residents has been announced.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, Neda Ferencic Vrban, a specialist from Zagreb's Andrija Stampar Institute, recently commented on the situation with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and the Croatian vaccine rollout at the Zagreb Fair (Zagrebacki Velesajam).

"We invited about 2,000 people for vaccination today (on the 3rd of June), we think that everyone who has been invited will be vaccinated if everything goes according to plan as it has been over recent days," said Neda Ferencic Vrban, who vaccinates people herself at the aforementioned Zagreb location, writes N1.

Commenting on where the people were being invited to for their vaccinations, she said: “We don't have public calls, those people were referred for vaccination against the novel coronavirus by their GPs and through the Cijepi Se platform. A public call will come soon because we've set a goal to get 50 percent of the adult population vaccinated, so it will only be a mere matter of days before the public call is sent out and then there'll be no need to apply, people can just turn up, especially after these quantities [of the vaccine] have arrived,''

They currently don't have AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson, and Pfizer is now being used for both doses in the Croatian vaccine rollout, she pointed out.

Speaking about giving people different doses, she said: “So far, we don't have any recommendations from the CNIPH in regard to mixing doses with different vaccines. As long as the instructions are that both doses must match from the same manufacturer, we'll continue to do it that way.''

When it comes to the topic of the vaccination of minors, she said: "The recommendations of the Croatian Institute of Public Health have arrived with regard to research and the recommendation is for children aged 12 to 16 to be vaccinated with Pfizer, and first of all that will involve vulnerable groups who have existing conditions which would worsen if they became infected.''

Commenting on the rapidly approaching tourist season and the Croatian vaccine rollout's relation to it, she said: “The recommendation is vaccination, responsibility towards oneself and to others. Only vaccination will finally take us out of the pandemic and let us return to our normal way of living.''

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 and choose 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, 30 April 2021

Health Minister Vili Beros Announces Changes in Croatian Vaccine Rollout

April the 30th, 2021 - Health Minister Vili Beros has announced changes in the Croatian vaccine rollout following the embarrassing situation surrounding the Cijepi se vaccination portal and issues with turnout and vaccine arrivals.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, the health minister has stated that so far, more than a million doses of vaccine have arrived in Croatia, with around 825,000 doses having been administered.

''Vaccination coverage greater than an average of 16 percent was achieved in the 65 and older age group. The highest coverage with the first dose is in Zagreb, standing at 18 percent, followed by Sisak-Moslavina County. The Croatian Institute of Public Health has issued recommendations to prevent the spread of the infection during election rallies. A revised list of countries for which special entry measures should be applied upon arrival in Croatia has also been published. India has now added to the special entry measure list,'' said Vili Beros.

"As part of the intensification of the Croatian vaccine rollout and its campaign, we sent a letter to the Ministry of Defense and the Red Cross for their active involvement. We've been asked if we can allow people to visit patients who are in critical conditions in hospital. The pressure on the hospital system isn't subsiding, but we're still managing to take care of the sick.

The arrival of a larger amount of vaccines makes it possible to intensify the Croatian vaccine rollout at mass vaccination points. By registering with a family doctor, by phone or by registering on the Cijepi se platform, I'd like to invite people to please register for vaccination,'' he added.

He emphasised that a sufficient number of vaccine doses has now been been provided.

“The Croatian Government has provided sufficient quantities of the coronavirus vaccine. The establishment of a clear chain of command is also crucial. The main coordinator is the director of the Croatian Institute of Public Health. This is being achieved on the basis of new legal decisions such as the decision on the mandatory participation of public and private healthcare workers in the implementation of the Croatian vaccine rollout. Three new coordinators have been appointed - the first for the organisation of vaccination sites, the second for distribution and the third for IT support.

“The new operational plan for the vaccination of the working population is clearly elaborated in detail. Family physicians are required to take out a list of persons who haven't yet been vaccinated from their files and they'll be vaccinated through the use of call centres. Mobile teams have also been formed. Additional locations are being determined throughout Croatia,'' Beros said.

"Sufficient quantities of various vaccines will be provided at all of the locations. The precondition for issuing a vaccination certificate is the enrollment in a digital platform. It's clear that this is a preparation to dynamise the Croatian vaccine rollout, to make it an effort we stick to seven days a week," PM Andrej Plenkovic added.

On Thursday, Plenkovic pointed out that the number of newly infected people had begun to fall in recent days compared to the previous two weeks, but also said that there was still no relaxation in terms of the need to fully adhere to all current epidemiological measures.

"It's encouraging that our numbers have started to fall in recent days compared to the past two weeks, but we should continue to be maximally responsible because this is the best way to accelerate the decline in the number of infected and dead people,'' Plenkovic said during a government session.

''Each of us has an active role in this process and our behaviour can contribute to the protection of life and health, but also to the economy and jobs,'' he stressed.

This, he added, especially refers to the tourist season and he expressed satisfaction that the process of vaccinating tourist workers has already begun down in Dubrovnik-Neretva County, which should continue.

He also mentioned that last weekend, he asked the Minister of Health to prepare a concrete, updated action plan to intensify the Croatian vaccine rollout and reiterated that Croatia will have a total of at least 3.2 million doses of coronavirus vaccine available from the end of December to the end of June.

"All those who want to receive the vaccine will be able to get it," he assured, reiterating his appeal to residents, especially those with chronic diseases and the elderly, to get vaccinated at checkpoints that will be established or which already exist throughout Croatia.

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

Saturday, 24 April 2021

Ministry Denies Claims That COVID Jab Bookings Were Deleted From Platform

April 24, 2021 - The health ministry on Saturday refuted media allegations about deleting 4,000 Covid jab bookings for getting vaccinated from the CijepiSe registration platform on 23 February.

The ministry explained that some minor technical deficiencies appeared in connecting the relevant data about holders of social security numbers during the test trial of the platform.

The ministry was notified about this information after it asked the company to develop and manage the cijepise.zdravlje.hr platform to give its opinion on the matter.

It has been established that all the data relevant for making vaccination appointments were not connected in the case of 200 citizens who booked COVID vaccinations during the trial test of the platform.

As soon as it got this information, the ministry demanded an urgent solution to the problem, and then solving the issue is ongoing, the ministry said.

The ministry dispelled fears that this might adversely affect the schedule for getting vaccinated, explaining that the schedule for administering COVID-19 vaccinations is arranged according to the priorities defined in the vaccine rollout plan and not according to o the date of sending the request for vaccination.

As many as 160,000 Croatians have booked COVID vaccines through the cijepise.zdravlje.hr, and no irregularities except the above-mentioned technical problem involving 200 entries have been recorded.

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

Sunday, 14 March 2021

Expert Says: No Link Between Death of 91-year-old Woman and Vaccination

ZAGREB, 13 March 2021 - The head of Croatia's Agency for Medicinal Products and Medical Services (HALMED), Siniša Tomić, said on Saturday that according to preliminary data he did not believe that there was a connection between the death of a 91-year-old woman and her inoculation with AstraZeneca vaccine against COVID.

The HALMED regulator and the Croatian Institute of Public Health (HZJZ) are supposed to adopt their joint conclusion on this matter next week; he told the national broadcaster HTV on Saturday evening.

HALMED is looking into a 7 March report of a fatal pulmonary embolism in the 91-year-old woman three days after receiving a shot of AstraZeneca.

According to Tomić, this case will also be on the agenda of the Pharmacovigilance Risk Assessment Committee (PRAC) of the European Medicines Agency (EMA).

Tomić said that to date, 14 reports had been submitted in Croatia about side effects with death outcome after inoculations against coronavirus. In nine cases, the reports were sent after the inoculation with the Pfizer vaccine and in five with AstraZeneca.

In six cases, it has been ruled out that the death might be associated with inoculation. In two cases, this relationship does not seem probable, and in another six cases, the authorities are waiting for more supporting documents.

To read more about Coronavirus in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Saturday, 13 March 2021

PM: Croatia has Ordered Enough Vaccines, Demands They be Delivered

ZAGREB, 13 March 2021 - Croatia has ordered "more than enough" COVID-19 vaccines via the European Commission's centralised system but is faced with late deliveries because manufacturers are not honouring what has been signed, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković has told France 24.

He was speaking for "Talking Europe", a programme on French national television, while visiting Brussels on Thursday and Friday.

"We ordered more than enough, but the vaccines are distributed pro rata, that is how much vaccine you ordered from which company."

He said he came to Brussels because Croatia was faced with late deliveries. "That's the main reason I'm here... I insist that what we signed, what we ordered, be delivered."

"I talked about it with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and her team. We ordered the vaccine via the centralised system set up by the Commission."

Regarding the AstraZeneca vaccine, Plenković agreed with Rome's decision to block a delivery of 250,000 doses to Australia. He said he supported the Italian authorities' move to send "a concrete signal" to AstraZeneca that "it must honour what has been signed."

That is in no way against Australia, but it's necessary to remind companies that they must adhere to signed agreements, he added.

Since Croatia has vaccinated only 5% of its population and has, alongside France, one of the lowest vaccination rates in the EU, he was asked if he was willing, like Hungary, to buy the Russian vaccine without the approval of the European Medicines Agency.

"Every government must approach with the utmost caution matters concerning public health, people's safety and vaccination. The EMA and the Croatian medicines agency are filters, and experts must help governments make wise decisions. To me as prime minister, public health and the safety and protection of our citizens will always come first."

Regarding the suspension of vaccination with AstraZeneca in a number of European countries due to allegedly serious side effects, including blood clots, Plenković said no such cases had been registered in Croatia.

"We haven't noticed any of the side effects after the administration of AstraZeneca/Oxford that may have occurred in other countries. On the contrary, we believed from the start that this vaccine is good also for our citizens older than 65," he said.

"At this moment, according to the information we have, we have neither reason nor grounds to apply that measure and will continue to use the AstraZeneca vaccine," he added.

Speaking of the Commission's proposal to introduce so-called COVID passports, whereby travellers would certify that they are vaccinated or have a negative PCR test, Plenković said it could be part of a strategy to bring tourists back to Croatia.

He said "it could serve as an aid to enable free travel. That's something we should consider."

To read more about Covid-19 in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page

Monday, 8 March 2021

Women Better Responded to COVID-19 Vaccine, Study Shows

ZAGREB, 8 March, 2021 - People who had recovered from COVID-19 had a considerably high level of antibodies after the first dose of vaccine, which did not increase after the second shot, so they most probably will not need a second dose, the director of the Hospital for Infectious Diseases in Zagreb, Alemka Markotić, said on Monday.

Speaking at a regular press conference given by the national COVID-19 response team, Markotić presented the results of a study conducted by the hospital among its staff. The results have also been requested by the European Medicines Agency.

Women responded better than men

All staff had statistically considerably higher immunoglobulin levels a month after the second dose of vaccine compared with the first dose. Women responded better and had higher levels than men, especially after the second dose. There was a slightly negative correlation with age, as elderly subjects had a weaker response, which was moderate, Markotić said.

After the second dose, there was a considerable rise in the level of antibodies. None of the staff fell ill after the vaccination, and no differences were established among staff in respect of their job at the hospital, she added.

So far 426 (55.3%) of the staff at the Hospital for Infectious Diseases have received two doses of the Pfizer vaccine. Eight of them developed allergic reactions after the first dose and were not administered a second dose.

Initial serological tests were done on 420 staff three weeks after the administration of the first dose and shortly before the second dose, while second serological tests were performed on 82 staff four weeks after the second dose.

The subjects were 344 women and 89 men. They included 321 health workers and 112 workers in the healthcare system who are not in as close contact with patients as health workers.

Women better responded to the vaccine after the first and second shots. There is a negative correlation between the level of antibodies and age, which was expected given that the immunology system becomes less responsive with ageing, Markotić said.

Monday, 8 March 2021

Epidemiologist: Roll-Out of Johnson & Johnson Vaccine to Start in Croatia in Early April

ZAGREB, 8 March, 2021 - The distribution of the Johnson & Johnson coronavirus single-dose vaccine can be expected in Croatia in early April, the head of Zagreb's Fran Mihaljević hospital for infectious diseases said on Sunday evening.

Asked by the commercial NOVA TV broadcaster whether Croatia is facing the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, the hospital's head, Dr. Alemka Markotić, said that the developments in Croatia's neighbourhood and in Europe "are being followed with the closest attention."

"The numbers are rapidly rising. Each country is trying to take care of its specific features and act accordingly," the doctor said adding that Croatia is currently among the countries that are faring best against COVID.

Markotić recalls that the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) tried to give some common guidelines, however, everybody assessed that their respective countries had too many differences and specific features.

"(Anti-epidemic) measures are important, we should adhere to them so as to keep the things at bay," Markotić said, among other things.

She added that on Monday a team of Croatian researchers would present findings of a study about the efficacy of the second shot of two-dose vaccines. The research has been conducted in Croatia.

The findings show that a high antibody titer was produced by some organisms after the they received the second dose of the COVID vaccination, she said.

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