The Deputy Economy Minister Vincas Jurgutis revealed that the proposal was made based on principles of safety in the country and popular enquiry: “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.”
The minister stressed the importance of vaccination, stating that the more people vaccinated in the country – the better. Therefore, offering jabs to tourists that intend to enter Lithuania and stay for over a week could help to prevent an influx in cases, hospitalizations and deaths during the tourist season.
Whilst Lithuania’s tourist vaccination scheme does appear innovative, New York and Alaska have implemented a similar scheme. Tourists in New York are able to get vaccinated with a single shot of Johnson and Johnson at key landmarks, such as Times Square, Brooklyn Bridge Park and Central Park. The move was approved in May to increase tourism and vaccination rates. Alaska has also offered jabs to tourists in its major airports since June 1.
Current Lithuanian law states that only Lithuanian residents can be vaccinated. In the plight to mass vaccinate, Lithuania has administered 2,312,325 doses and approximately 43% of Lithuania’s population has received at least one dose of a Covid vaccine, with almost 31% being fully vaccinated, according to data from the Lithuanian government published on June 18.
Coronavirus cases in the Baltic country are very low, with around 136 new cases reported daily. Since the outbreak of the pandemic, Lithuania has had 278,177 coronavirus cases and 4,357 deaths.