Croatia to Start Seafarers Vaccination in May

Mar 11, 2021

Croatian Institute for Public Health announced that it will prioritize maritime personnel to receive Covid-19 vaccines in the third phase. According to the director of the Institute Dr. Vladimir Mićović, the vaccination of Croatian seafarers should start in May 2021.

“Our goal is to vaccinate the elderly and chronically ill in March and April so that we can start vaccinating people from the third phase in May. That priority will again have certain groups designated as key workers such as emergency services, teachers, seafarers and caterers, said Dr. Vladimir Mićović.

In the past months, the Seafarers’ Union of Croatia sent several letters to the Ministry of Health requesting vaccination of seafarers who, due to the nature of their work, should be on the priority list. “We have not received an official letter, but we are sharing the statement of the director of the Institute for Public Health, prof. Dr. Vladimir Mićović, where sailors are mentioned for the first time in terms of priorities in vaccination.” Seafarers’ Union of Croatia reported on their website. The Croatian Seafarers' Union has repeatedly warned that seafarers need to be on the priority list in order to work abroad, especially after several cruise lines, such as Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, announced they will require crew members to be vaccinated.

Citing the International Maritime Organization the Ministry of Maritime Affairs, Transport and Infrastructure said that Croatia is listed among the countries that have designated seafarers as key workers. The inclusion alleviates challenges seafarers are facing around the world, in particular with regard to difficulty in organizing crew shifts, repatriation, and vaccination priority.

In the past month, Croatia has made some progress with the vaccination of its citizens, however, the country is still lagging behind. The European leader in terms of the percentage of Covid-19 vaccinations already administered is the UK with, as of the 9th of March, an incredible 35.45% of the population vaccinated, Serbia with 26.35%, and Malta with 23.87%. Whilst Croatia is one of the second worse countries in the European Union with a mere 6.46% as of the 9th of March, only Bulgaria with 4.45% is lower.

Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said that Croatia is "more than ready" to procure a Russian vaccine when it is approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA). The Russian vaccine is not licensed by the European Medicines Agency, however, this didn’t stop Hungary to become the first EU member to start using Sputnik V, and vaccinated 13.43% of its population.