ZAGREB, Dec 27 (Hina) – Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said on Sunday that he was sure that a vast majority of Croatians would be inoculated against coronavirus in the next months, reiterating that first 9,750 doses of COVID-19 vaccine would be administered to citizens at the highest risk and front-line professionals.
“I and my Cabinet are very happy that the vaccine rollout has started in Croatia. We have made the vaccination plan which the government adopted. The plan was prepared by the Croatian Institute of Public Health, to roll out vaccines throughout all the counties,” the premier said after the first person in Croatia, an 81-year-old Branka Anicic, a resident of a retirement home in Zagreb, was given a Pfizer jab on Sunday morning.
Plenkovic underscored that the first 9,750 doses would be given to citizens at the highest risk of contracting the disease and to frontline workers.
The Croatian PM expects the European Medicines Agency (EMA) to certify the COVID-19 vaccines produced by Moderna on 6 January.
Asked by the press why Croatia’s state leaders were not among the first to receive the vaccine, Plenkovic explained that the first doses should be distributed to residents in old-age care homes who are high-risk groups of citizens and to front-line physicians who care for them.
There will be enough time for the demonstration of giving vaccines to (officials) that should encourage as many people as possible to get vaccinated, said Plenkovic, who recently recovered from COVID-19.
He expressed his belief in the common sense of most citizens who will get vaccinated.
COVID-19 vaccine is safe, says member of gov’t scientific advisory council
A member of the government’s Scientific Advisory Council, Andreja Ambriovic Ristov, has said that the arrival of the COVID-19 vaccine in Croatia is the beginning of “the end of the abnormal situation we have been living in for ten months.”
The first 9,750 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine arrived in Croatia early on Saturday morning and the vaccination was set to start on Sunday.
Ambriovic Ristov, who heads the Department for Molecular Biology of Zagreb’s Rudjer Boskovic Institute, said in an interview with Croatian Television on Saturday that the situation regarding the COVID-19 pandemic would not get back to normal so soon and that the dynamic of the vaccination would determine how soon herd immunity would be achieved.
It is assumed that immunity requires vaccinating 70% of the population, but there is a possibility that more people will have to get vaccinated, she added.
She noted that people should not relax too soon and that they should comply with the epidemiological restrictions in force.
“The current restrictions cannot be relaxed. They are good, the government made the right decision because two weeks ago, when they were introduced, the number of new infections started to decline. Unfortunately, the decline in hospital admissions is small but the number of fatalities is unfortunately still not going down,” she said.
Ambriovic Ristov noted that one would have to live with restrictions until a majority of the population was immunised and until it became evident that the virus was circulating less in the population.
She said that it was not likely that people would be able to stop wearing face masks by autumn, but that the end was in sight.
She said that the vaccine was safe and that vaccination would not change anything in the human genome.
“We will stay as we are, the vaccine is completely safe,” she said, stressing that only those with a history of more serious allergic reactions should be on guard.
Researcher: Vaccine won’t yield effects before March
Researcher and molecular biologist Ivan Djikic said on Saturday that the vaccine that arrived in Croatia earlier in the day would not yield effects before March and stressed that compliance with epidemiological restrictions in January and February was essential for protection.
Expressing confidence that more than 70% of the population would get vaccinated based on positive results, he said that one should continue to be cautious because the vaccine alone would not defeat the disease.
It will take four to five weeks for the vaccine to yield a positive effect. “January and February are the months when we will have to work together to protect ourselves,” he said.
The situation in Croatia regarding the epidemic is unstable, data on new infections are not reliable, the rate of testing is insufficient, he said.
“Croatia is No. 1 in terms of the growth of mortality, No. 2 in terms of the number of deaths and No. 4 in terms of pressure on hospitals. The vaccine will not yield effects before March, only our joint work will,” he said, predicting that the situation will become more normal in the second half of 2021 but that life will completely get back to normal only in 2022.