How to get a vaccine in Madeira

The best guide available at the moment!

the covid vaccine information  contains contradictions

Thanks to one of the blog’s resident experts Peter Groen, who set off investigating what is a complicated issue at the blog’s request last week – how to get a vaccine if you happen to find yourselves in Madeira at this point in time, for whatever reason: The result of his investigations can be found below:

Peter remarks that “We all have passed a rather dark year. What started – in the eyes of many – as just another but a little more serious flu that would pass in a couple of months, turned into a full-blast pandemic. Hardly anyone has ever lived anything remotely like this. Even when the first wave hit us all full-blast, we still thought it would pass in a couple of months and things would go back to normal by September. We now know it didn’t. Even now that people start to get vaccinated, things don’t get better. For some they are even getting worse with yet more bans and restrictions and many start wondering. Can we get the covid vaccine in Madeira?”

fed up

Even though we find life on our little island still relatively relaxed, we do have a serious curfew. And travel to many countries has been made virtually impossible. (You can find all restrictions in my article here.)

People get tired of covid measures. Even we, though living in a small corner of paradise, are fed up and want to get out. No wonder we are very anxious to get a vaccine against covid-19. It’s not even that we are very worried that we might catch corona. We still feel very safe here in Madeira. Especially as we live in a rural area and we can easily avoid large concentrations of people.  But we want all these bans and restrictions removed as soon as possible. We want to travel again and see our friends and family overseas after such a long time.

flu vaccine

The main question that worried us is if we, as foreign citizens and unofficial residents can get the vaccine here. Let me explain our personal situation. When we bought our house here over ten years ago, we fully intended to remain residents of the Netherlands. And for a number of good reasons. That was not a problem, as we spent half of our time sailing from our Dutch base. We only spend the winter months in our Madeira house. When the pandemic dragged on, a dear friend of ours, who is an experienced nurse, told us to get the flu jab. If we would get covid, our bodies would not have to fight a flu infection on top of it.

When we went to our local ‘centro de saúde’, the receptionist checked. She saw that we were already inscribed in the Sesaram (health organisation of Madeira) system. So, we could easily make the appointment for the flu jab. We got our jab a couple of days later. The nurse wanted us to stay for half an hour after the jab. Just to make sure we didn’t have an allergic reaction. But she permitted us to cross the street and wait there. I think she did realise that we’d wait at our favourite Poncha place Bar Formiga. It’s just across from the Centro de Saúde.

covid vaccine, can we get it?

When slowly the vaccination against COVID-19 started on the island, we tried to find out if we were entitled to it, being non-residents. Normally, we would have travelled to the Netherlands and get the vaccine there later this spring, but as things are looking now, the Dutch government has practically blocked us from entering the country. There are possibilities to get there, but you need several expensive tests, at your own expense of course. The tests lose their validity if your flight is seriously delayed, not uncommon in Madeira. Simply too expensive and too risky timewise.

As long as Madeira is still on the ‘red list’ we will have to stay put. Time to find out if we can get the vaccine here. The first stop is, obviously,  the website. Annoyingly, the chapter about who can receive the vaccine contradicts itself. In one sentence it says that the vaccine is for residents, in another instance it says the vaccine is for anyone on Portuguese territory.

Time to go back to the Centro de Saúde. The lady at reception knows us well by now, and she said that, according to her, we should automatically get a phone call from Sesaram to invite us to get the vaccine. It all sounded too good to be true.

Read more:

Update March 2021:

Peter G has kindly updated the above advice: Those affected may have read this already in the FB group ‘British in Portugal’, but there is a new development. Non-holders of the infamous ‘numero de utente’ in the health system can now register to get a vaccine. Peter G has written an update to his earlier article. Here is the link:

COVID-19 in Madeira: daily updates can be found on an earlier post

5 thoughts on “How to get a vaccine in Madeira”

  1. I have always found Peter’s articles to be in-depth and accurate – although it looks like the goalposts are moving on this subject – I was talking to a Brit who lives there and they had been given a real run-around by the local health centre when they inquired about getting a jab.


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