Czech government ready to set policy for vaccination of foreigners

Plans by the Health Ministry to offer vaccinations for foreigners in the Czech Republic are moving forward.

ČTK

Written by ČTK
Published on 14.05.2021 08:32 (updated on 14.05.2021)

The Health Ministry will establish the framework for the vaccination of foreigners against Covid-19 in the Czech Republic next week, and innoculation may also be made accessible to self-payers, Health Minister Petr Arenberger told the Chamber of Deputies Thursday.

On Tuesday, Prague Mayor Zdeněk Hřib appealed to the Health Ministry to deal with the issue of vaccinating foreigners without health insurance.

Arenberger said that vaccination policies similar to those for members of the diplomatic corps, who "pay for the vaccine application only and receive the vaccine for free," would apply to foreigners. He added that self-payers would pay for the vaccine as well.

"The given vaccination centers will return the vaccine costs to the state," he said.

Arenberger did not say when vaccination may become accessible to foreigners in the Czech Republic.

Health Ministry spokeswoman Jana Schillerová told ČTK that the ministry is preparing a plan to allow vaccine registry for foreigners who do not have public health insurance either in the Czech Republic or elsewhere in the EU.

"These will mainly be Czech citizens who do not have public health insurance, and foreigners from the EU or third states who have long-term residence in the Czech Republic," Schillerová said.

Foreigners with health insurance coverage from countries of the EU, the European Economic Area, Switzerland and the states with which the Czech Republic has a bilateral agreement such as Albania, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia, Tunisia, and Turkey are eligible for the same benefits as people with Czech health insurance.

"If the legal requirements are met, vaccination against coronavirus is a medical service covered by public health insurance. Which means it's covered for both Czech and foreign insured clients," Vlastimil Sršeň, spokesman for the General Health Insurance Company (VZP), told ČTK.

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Foreigners who hold a European health insurance card, are eligible only for urgent medical care in the Czech Republic. Sršeň said that, in accordance with VZP policies, vaccination qualifies as an urgent care service in the case of long-term residents in the Czech Republic, not short-term visitors such as tourists.

"These costs are subsequently submitted [by VZP] to the Czech auxiliary health insurer for reimbursement. Consequently, nevertheless, the costs of the vaccination of foreign insurance clients are shouldered by their foreign health insurance company," he said.

Sršeň added that vaccination definitely does not qualify as urgent care if it is the only purpose of a foreigner's trip to the Czech Republic.

It isn't clear how many uninsured foreigners live in the Czech Republic. According to the Interior Ministry's statistical data, a total of 656,300 foreigners lived in the Czech Republic at the end of the first quarter of the year, including 344,300 with temporary stay and the rest permanently.

Those foreigners who work in the Czech Republic as employees have Czech public insurance. More problematic are foreigners who work in the Czech Republic illegally. Labor inspection checks uncovered about 2,400 illegal foreigners last year and over 3,500 in 2019 and 2018.

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