This week the Health Ministry announced that Slovakia’s vaccination programme was now open to people over 40. This came just three days after registration opened for those in the 45-50 age group, and was accompanied by a confirmation that the ministry was considering opening the programme up to people of all ages soon.
But while this sounds like good news for many young people, experts say it paints a worrying picture of how Slovakia’s vaccination programme is progressing overall – and could leave Slovakia stuck with lockdown restrictions into summer.
Experts say that if many elderly people remain unvaccinated in the coming months, hospitals will remain full of patients with Covid-19, blocking healthcare for others, and lockdown measures, in some form, will remain in place.
Low uptake among elderly
Many other countries with similar size populations are still only vaccinating people in retirement age.
“We moved to lower age groups because people are not interested in the vaccination,“ Martin Šuster, an economist and analyst specialising in the Covid-19 vaccination process in Slovakia, told The Slovak Spectator.
Latest data has shown that Slovakia has vaccinated far fewer elderly people than the EU average, although the overall vaccination rate is similar to that in other EU states. As of April 14, Slovakia had administrated 22 doses per 100 people, roughly the same as Italy, France, Norway, and Ireland. The figure in most EU countries ranges between 20 and 25 doses per 100 people.
But Slovakia lags significantly behind EU countries in terms of the number of doses administrated to those over 80.