Lithuania has begun mass vaccination of people over 16 this week. However, vaccination speeds have been slowing down, and vaccination centres report increasing numbers of unused shots.
Lithuania was initially among the EU leaders by the pace of vaccination, but has since been overtaken by slow beginners such as Poland and Germany.
Vaccination pace differs across municipalities as well. Authorities of Šalčininkai municipality in the south east of the country say that everyone who wanted their shot has already received it, and that makes about a fifth of the town's population.
Its vaccination centre has been serving around 200 people a day, but half of them come from other municipalities.
“I think we've done everything we could. We put up billboards, printed leaflets, made a video” to encourage people to get vaccinated, says Šalčininkai municipality spokeswoman Jolanta Černiavskienė.
The vaccination process has also slowed down in the big cities, such as Vilnius and Kaunas. In the latter, vaccination centres have been operating at half capacity, but that is because of dearth of vaccines. Many are currently used for second jabs, says Paulius Keras, deputy director of Kaunas Municipal Administration.
“The majority of vaccines delivered next week will be used on first shots,” says Keras.
Lukas Galkus from the Health Ministry admits that some municipalities report larger numbers of unused shots, while others use up all of them.
In the country as a whole, vaccination reached the top pace in early May and has slowed down since then.
The speed of vaccination usually drops off once half of the population get their shots, observations suggest.
“We’ve reached the level when the majority of people who really wanted their shots have received them,“ says professor Vytautas Usonis from Vilnius University. “Now we’re coming to the stage when we will have to encourage and inform people further.”
The Health Ministry is planning to launch an information campaign to encourage more people to get vaccinated.