Someone faints, everyone else leaves. Roma are often scared of vaccination

The Covid vaccination uptake in marginalised communities is far below the national average, provoking concerns ahead of Delta wave.

The pilot project of in-field vaccination of pupils was launched in the village of Kecerovce.The pilot project of in-field vaccination of pupils was launched in the village of Kecerovce. (Source: The Education Ministry via SITA)

Slovakia’s marginalised Roma communities are only 7 percent vaccinated against Covid-19.

The state, self-governing provinces and individual hospitals and clinics do venture into these communities regularly in mobile vaccination units, but they often encounter fear and mistrust. As autumn approaches, there are fears that these communities will become hotbeds for the Delta variant of Covid-19. Besides low vaccination rates, a key reason for this are poor living conditions, bad hygiene, overcrowded habitations and difficulties or the inability to remain quarantined.

SkryťRemove ad
Article continues after video advertisement
SkryťRemove ad
Article continues after video advertisement

The power of local leaders

One of the few happy exceptions in the gloomy case of Roma vaccination rates is the village of Ostrovany in the Sabinov district. Over a decade ago the village became infamous for a 150-metre long wall that separated the Roma community from the town’s other denizens.

The Atlas of Roma communities reports 2,200 people living in the village these days, of which about 80 to 90 percent are Roma. 900 are vaccinated against Covid-19. Taking into account figures from the Sabinov district, or even the entirety of the Prešov Region, this number is above average. Furthermore, a large part of the village’s population comprises children; the mayor estimates that there are only about 1,200 adults in the village. “900 is a great number, what do you think?” mayor Rastislav Popuša told the Sme daily.

SkryťRemove ad
Related article Marginalised Roma vaccine-shy as long as majority remain lukewarm towards vaccines Read more 

The mayor’s recipe for success was relatively simple.

The rest of this article is premium content at
Subscribe now for full access

I already have subscription - Sign in

Subscription provides you with:
  • Immediate access to all locked articles (premium content) on
  • Special weekly news summary + an audio recording with a weekly news summary to listen to at your convenience (received on a weekly basis directly to your e-mail)
  • PDF version of the latest issue of our newspaper, The Slovak Spectator, emailed directly to you
  • Access to all premium content on and

Top stories

Former interior minister Robert Kaliňák

News digest: Former three-time interior minister charged again

First Slovak movie to portray queer couple airs, people feel aggressiveness is on the rise. Learn more in today's digest.

9 h
Parade in Bratislava-Petržalka at Carnival 2018 season.

Foreigners: Top 10 events in Bratislava

Tips for the top 10 events in the capital between February 2 and February 12, plus regular services in different languages, training, temporary exhibitions and highlights of the year.

2. feb
Illustrative stock photo

It's not just whales and pandas that need saving, Slovak researchers stress

How far has science come in Slovakia in the 30 years since the end of Czechoslovakia?

31. jan
Many children struggle with increased anxiety, friendship issues or behaviour problems as they re-adjust to life after Covid-19.

3 steps to help children (and adults) thrive

Being isolated from each other has caused a rise in mental health issues among young people.

1. feb
SkryťClose ad