More than 50 Russian citizens are travelling to Croatia each day in order to get vaccinated with a jab that has been approved for use by the European Medicines Agency (EMA).
At the moment, the Russian authorities offer only the country’s Sputnik V vaccine. However, since those who have been fully immunised against the COVID-19 disease with this vaccine dose are not eligible to travel restriction-free to the EU, most of them have decided to take an EMA-approved booster shot.
Croatia is one of the countries that offer free vaccines for everyone, including foreigners, which has led to a significant increase in flights from Russia to Croatia as more Russians are willing to receive a vaccine that is widely recognised within the European Union, SchengenVisaInfo.com reports.
All EU Member States have strict entry rules for travellers who have been vaccinated with Sputnik. Those who have received the Sputnik vaccine are obliged to undergo testing and self-isolation rules upon their arrival in the majority of EU/Schengen Area countries. In some cases, they are also subject to double testing requirements.
Therefore, in order to avoid extensive entry measures as well as be able to travel freely throughout Europe, Russians are reaching other countries that are offering vaccines that are widely recognised.
“From April to October 2021, 4,908 foreigners, most of them Russians, got vaccinated here. Only during this month we’ve had around 1,000 Russians who received vaccines,” the head of the vaccination centre in Croatia, Dr. Neda Ferencic Vrban, said for France24.
The Sputnik V vaccine hasn’t been approved yet by EMA or the World Health Organization (WHO) as the manufacturer of the vaccine hasn’t provided all the required information for the review that is planned to happen by the end of this month.
As a result, since the vaccine hasn’t got the green light either by EMA or WHO, travellers from Russia as well as at least a million EU citizens are unable to travel to the US. This is because the US Food and Drug Administration only accepts the vaccines approved by EMA and WHO as valid proof of immunity for travel.
Similar to the US, all the EU/Schengen Area countries that accept only vaccine doses approved by EMA and WHO do not permit unrestricted entry to Russian citizens and nationals of other countries that have received the Sputnik vaccine.
Of the EU/Schengen Area countries, only Greece, Cyprus, Slovenia, Hungary, and Slovakia permit entry to travellers immunised with Sputnik.
Considering that every country has different requirements regarding the vaccination status of travellers it is suggested that everyone checks the validity of their vaccine before travelling abroad. This can be done by using VisaGuide.World’s vaccine-checker tool, which allows everyone to verify if their vaccine is recognised by their destination country.
According to the data provided by Reuter’s vaccination tracker, only 35.6 per cent of Russia’s adult population has been fully vaccinated. On the other hand, around 42.6 per cent have received at least one dose of the vaccine.
Due to the low vaccination rates, the COVID-19 cases have been sharply increasing in Russia. Only during the last 24 hours, the country has reported 36,818 new infection cases and 1,240 deaths.