Czech regional authorities encourage Covid ‘vaccination tourism’, criticise central registration system

Photo: ČTK/Josef Vostárek

So-called coronavirus “vaccination tourism” is spreading rapidly in the Czech Republic. People who face long waits for an appointment at a nearby site to get the jab are registering elsewhere. Some regions are now officially recommending this supply-and-demand solution.

Among the vaccination tourists is Pavla, on behalf of her father, whom she initially registered for a vaccination at the nearest and largest hospital.

“My father is 70 years old, and I wanted to register him for at Kladno hospital, which is not far from us. I thought because it’s a large hospital, that it wouldn’t take too long.”

After still not having been given an appointment after two weeks, Pavla decided to try her luck in Slaný, some 13 kilometres away.

“Within two hours, I got a confirmation SMS along with a PIN number for an appointment. I made one right away, and after three days, my father was able to get the vaccine.”

Photo: ČTK/Josef Vostárek

In Kladno, people now wait two to three weeks to book an appointment, and in Slaný, just a few days. Authorities in central and southern Bohemian are now actively encouraging some 3,000 people to register for a jab outside their own localities.

That sounds like a common sense solution. But the central registration system does not inform people registering for vaccinations about the current capacities of various centres, notes Central Bohemia spokesperson Martina Kemrová.

“We are monitoring the situation, and if there is a large imbalance locally, we send people from the busier sites recommendations about less busy sites where to register.”

That would not be necessary if occupancy rates were already displayed in the registration system. But a corresponding upgrade of the online system has not yet been planned, says Lukáš Trnka, a spokesman for the National Agency for Communication and Information Technologies (NAKIT)

“Due to developers’ limited capacity of, we are not considering that now. The imbalance can be solved by redistributing vaccine supplies, which the Ministry of Health has done many times – and sent text messages to re-register where people have a chance to get an earlier appointment.”

Jan Blatný,  photo: ČTK/Vít Šimánek

To bridge the gap, a group of IT developers, acting on their own and using open source software, has created a website ( listing all vaccination centres in the Czech Republic, along with current waiting times for an appointment.

That website uses state registration system data, which in fact also records the current occupancy rates – but does not make public the information, says Health Minister Jan Blatný:

“We use the data in the event that queues form, so to speak, at some centres due to high demand. This is then taken into account when allocating the vaccines.”

Meanwhile, although nationwide vaccination capacities are being expanded, some sites still do not have enough doses, despite the capacity to administer twice or three times the doses. Currently, less than 5 percent of the population has received the necessary two doses.

Authors: Brian Kenety , Janetta Němcová
run audio