Covid vaccination in Slovakia: What went wrong? (timeline)

Slovakia belongs among the least vaccinated populations in the EU.

(Source: Sme)

December 26, 2020 - Slovakia begins vaccine rollout on the same day vaccines are delivered to the country. Infectologist Vladimír Krčméry is the first person to receive the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine in Slovakia.

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December 27, 2020 - President Zuzana Čaputová and several cabinet and parliament members receive the jab. Medical staff is also vaccinated.

January 4, 2021 - Healthcare workers and employees of nursing homes register for vaccination via an online form published on the website.

January 11, 2021 - Former elite Slovak tennis player Dominika Cibulková skips the vaccination line. She is vaccinated when many first-line healthcare workers are still waiting for their jab and the vaccination of seniors has not started yet.

January 15, 2021 - 55,100 people are vaccinated.

January 18, 2021 - The Health Ministry reassesses the country's vaccination strategy, which originally had only four categories. The new strategy contains 11 categories, giving preferences to nursing home residents and healthcare staff.

January 26, 2021 - ​​Vaccination against COVID-19 is now available for people over the age of 75 in Slovakia. It is possible to register for vaccination only online or via a call centre. The help line is always busy and the dates are swiftly booked online. People wait online late at night when new dates are added, to register their parents or grandparents who often have no computer or internet at home and lack computer skills. Observers dub the system the Hunger Games.

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February 1, 2021 - The Health Ministry officially launches a campaign to support vaccination in Slovakia. Called Vaccination is Freedom, it is depicted by two fingers forming a "V" as a symbol of victory. Health Minister Marek Krajčí (OĽaNO) says that this symbol connects people during difficult, historic moments.

February 13, 2021 - Slovakia's vaccination strategy changes again. Contrary to previous plans, teachers regardless of age are given preference. They are the first in Slovakia to receive the AstraZeneca vaccines.

February 16, 2021 - The second pandemic wave is killing hundreds every week. Slovakia asks for the help of health professionals from abroad. Then PM Igor Matovič proposes to his cabinet to purchase the Russian Sputnik V vaccines, without EMA registration, but the cabinet turns down his idea.

Sputnik vaccine orbits Slovak politics Read more 

February 24, 2021 - Slovakia vaccinates 208,503 people with the first dose of the vaccine and 101,929 with both doses, which in total makes about 5.7 percent of the population.

March 1, 2021 - A batch of the Russian vaccines Sputnik V arrives in Slovakia. The vaccines are brought onboard the Spartan military plane, which took off to Moscow on the night of February 28, landing back in Košice a day later. This act ignites a major governmental crisis that results in the government’s reshuffling.

March 11, 2021 - National Football Stadium in Bratislava turns into a large-capacity vaccination centre.

March 17, 2021 – The virtual waiting room is launched. This puts an end to long waits for free dates. People who want the vaccine simply enrol into the system and wait until they receive their appointment.

April 1, 2021 – On the day Slovakia gains a new government led by PM Eduard Heger, the millionth vaccine is administered in Slovakia.

April 7, 2021 – The regular poll How Are You, Slovakia, measures the highest willingness to get vaccinated among the Slovak population: 41.8 percent say they would opt for the jab and 7.2 percent say they are already vaccinated. The number has not been matched in the polls since.

April 13, 2021 – Registration for vaccination opens for everyone older than 40 when most European countries are still vaccinating people in their 60s and 50s. Experts see it as a worrying picture of how Slovakia’s vaccination programme is progressing overall. They say that if many elderly people remain unvaccinated in the coming months, hospitals will remain full of patients with Covid-19, blocking healthcare in general, and lockdown measures, in some form, will remain in place.

April 14, 2021Health Ministry makes the vaccine accessible to some groups of foreigners in Slovakia. Not everyone is entitled to a jab, problem for those with commercial health insurance.

April 24, 2021 – More than a million people in Slovakia have received the first jab.

April 29, 2021 – The virtual waiting room opens for everyone older than 16. Appointments should be distributed according to age, but soon after launching the registration system people start to report that teenagers received their appointments sooner than adults. The National Health Information Centre cancels the teenagers’ appointments.

May 8, 2021Anyone who wants to accompany a person over 70 for a vaccine will receive it too.

May 11, 2021 - The Health Ministry suspends the administration of the AstraZeneca vaccine for first jabs. The decision is made after the State Institute for Drug Control (ŠÚKL) reports the death of a 47-year-old woman, probably related to the AstraZeneca vaccine.

June 1, 2021 GPs can vaccinate their patients in their own offices, but the interest among doctors to carry out the jab is low.

June 7, 2021The first Sputnik V jab is administered three months after the vaccines landed in Slovakia.

June 14, 2021Foreigners without public health insurance now eligible for a jab.

June 23, 2021The first case of the Delta variant is confirmed in Slovakia. The only way not to return to a life under lockdown and restrictions is vaccination, says President Zuzana Čaputová in reaction.

July 2, 2021 - Coalition party Sme Rodina blocks the cabinet-proposed amendment that would make vaccination or negative Covid test results a requirement to enter restaurants, fitness centres and other facilities, despite the six-hour coalition session the previous day. Boris Kollár and his party insist that people must not be divided into two categories, vaccinated and unvaccinated, and that the PCR tests unvaccinated people will be required to take to enter, for example, a restaurant, must not be paid from their own pockets.

July 7, 2021Vaccination centres start to vaccinate without previous registration due to low interest in vaccination.

August 1, 2021 – The lottery for the vaccinated kicks off. Everyone vaccinated in Slovakia may apply. One person can win €100,000 in weekly drawings, prizes accumulate.

August 31, 2021Slovakia wraps up vaccination with Sputnik V. Altogether 37,021 doses of the vaccine have been administered in Slovakia so far, with slightly more than 18,500 people receiving them.

September 8, 2021 - Vaccination against Covid opens for children older than five who have serious diagnoses.

September 13, 2021Vaccination with booster shot is launched in Slovakia, nursing home residents are the first to receive the third jab.

September 29, 2021 The first vaccinated person in Slovakia, Vladimír Krčméry, hides abroad due to fear of aggressive anti-vaxxers.

October 18, 2021 – We all have a common enemy. The Health Ministry launches its new vaccination campaign.

November 8, 2021 - As many as 1,300 doctors, nurses and other medical workers sign an open letter in which they call on people to get vaccinated.

December 7, 2021 – Finance Minister Igor Matovič announces €300 in cash to all people older than 60 who receive the third vaccine dose, and €200 for others aged 60+ who get vaccinated with the first or second dose.

December 11, 2021 - First three Omicron cases have been confirmed in Slovakia.

December 22, 2021 – Slovakia has vaccinated 2,731,463 people in total and 2,539,700 people are fully vaccinated. More than 504,955 people have received the booster dose. The vaccination rate of the population is 50 percent and 58 percent of the adult population has received at least one dose.

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