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Fact Check-Croatia’s president did not halt the country’s COVID-19 vaccination programme

Social media users have falsely suggested Croatian President Zoran Milanovic has announced the end of the country’s COVID-19 vaccination drive.

Example posts can be seen here and here.

The posts feature a video of Milanovic answering questions at a press conference on Sept. 10.

In response to a journalist’s comment that Croatia is not “sufficiently vaccinated unlike the EU average”, the president is quoted in English subtitles as saying: “I don’t care. We’re vaccinated enough and everyone knows it.

“We will not go more than 50%. Let them fence us with wire. They won’t do that.”

The clip has since been posted by English-speaking social media accounts with suggestions that Milanovic had announced an end to vaccination, which is incorrect.

Text in one post reads: “President of Croatia: The media spread panic and nonsense. We will not be vaccinated anymore.”

Another says: “President of Croatia says they are done jabbing. They are not going to do it anymore” (here).

Firstly, the presidency in Croatia is a largely ceremonial role (here) and does not have the power to halt the vaccine rollout.

Secondly, social media users have misinterpreted Milanovic’s remarks. Croatian newspaper Večernji List reported on the wider context, which reveals the president was saying that citizens could not be forced into complying with measures, such as vaccinations.

“We cannot encourage this obsessive culture of security indefinitely,” he says (quoted here). “The moment there are more vaccines than those interested in taking them, the story is over, there is nothing further. Assuming that the vaccination is effective - and it is.”

Milanovic received the COVID-19 vaccine on Jan. 7, 2021 and has encouraged others to do the same (here).

The Croatian government website carries the slogan, “Think of others, get vaccinated!” (here) and invites residents to book a vaccination cijepise.zdravlje.hr/.

Reuters data showing vaccination and COVID-19 rates in Croatia can be seen here . As of Sept. 23, Croatia had administered at least 3,380,570 doses. Assuming every person needs two doses, that’s enough to vaccinate about 41.6% of the country’s population.

Many countries in Europe have already far surpassed the 50% vaccination rate, according to the European Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (here).

Croatia has set rules and guidance to prevent the spread of the virus, such as public gathering limits, mandatory testing for visitors, mandatory face coverings indoors and in public transport (here). The country also put in place a 270-day vaccine expiration for visitors (here).

In mid-September, local media reported on 300,000 new vaccine doses being brought to the country (here).

Milanovic’s office was not immediately available for comment.

VERDICT

Missing context. Croatian President Zoran Milanovic did not say COVID-19 vaccinations would be stopped in remarks he gave at a press conference.

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our fact-checking work  here .         

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