VILNIUS – Lithuania’s Ministry of Economy and Innovation has proposed to offer COVID-19 vaccine shots not just to Lithuanian nationals living abroad but also to tourists.
The ministry sent a respective proposal to the Ministry of Health earlier this week. In its proposal, the ministry said that, in addition to the Lithuanian nationals living abroad and having no compulsory health insurance coverage, vaccine shots could also be offered to tourists arriving in Lithuania for a period exceeding one week.
“We receive a lot of questions about a possibility to get vaccine shots both from the Lithuanians living abroad and the foreigners living in Lithuania. Hence, the overall aim is to ensure the maximum protection of those who are in Lithuania, which would help control the spread of the disease,” said Deputy Economy Minister Vincas Jurgutis.
This was particularly important in summer, which traditionally brought more people to the country, he said.
“The more vaccinated people we have, the safer we will be. Therefore, we have to offer a chance to get vaccinated to those who want to receive vaccine shots while staying in Lithuania. And the respective procedure should be as clear as possible,” the official said.
Asked whether this might amount to the so-called “vaccine tourism”, Jurgutis said that “this is not the point of this proposal”.
“However, if there are people who adjust some of their plans due to that [possibility], we do not consider that a big problem,” the deputy minister explained.
Economy and Innovation Minister Ausrine Armonaite stated earlier this week that she had asked the Ministry of Health to offer the Lithuanian nationals living abroad a possibility to get COVID-19 vaccine shots in Lithuania.
Aiste Suksta, spokeswoman for Health Minister Arunas Dulkys, then told that this issue was being discussed now and added that vaccination of those people would require respective preparations.
Pursuant to the existing procedures, coronavirus vaccine shots can only be offered to people with compulsory health insurance coverage or other Lithuania’s residents, including foreigners.