Romania is experiencing the emergence of a new phenomenon: “vaccination tourism”, meaning that people are willing to travel hundreds of kilometers to have the COVID-19 vaccine administered (and for a second time for the booster vaccine), Transylvanian news portal Krónika online reports.
The main starting point of “vaccine tourism” is Kolozsvár (Cluj-Napoca in Romanian). Many people from the largest city in Transylvania are willing to drive to small towns and villages in Szilágy, Bihar or Máramarss counties to receive an injection, as there are almost zero vacancies in Kolozsvár since the national registration website was launched.
It is also almost impossible to find a free place in the western part of the country, Nagyvárad (Oradea) from where many people travel to nearby small towns, Élesd, Nagyszalonta or the much more distant Vaskohsziklás to obtain vaccinations.
The main reason is that in the country’s three-tier regional coronavirus hazard classification, Kolozsvár has been in the strictest red zone for three months and only graduated to amber recently.
Romania has a vaccine registration system which by default only shows local vaccination centers, but that can be changed and anyone can apply for vaccination at any other center in the country if there is an available slot.
Dezső Szenkovics, dean of the Kolozsvár faculty of the Sapientia Hungarian Science University, traveled over 200 kilometers for the first vaccine,
“This is important because I hope we will be able to resume traditional, in-person education soon. I also belong to a hazard group as I suffer from chronic asthma,” Szenkovics told Krónika.
It now look like he will have to make another trip to a third location for his booster vaccine, unless Romanian public health authorities can work out a vaccine distribution system that better takes into account local demand.
Title image: COVID-19 vaccines. (MTI/Márton Mónus)