Public/Global Health

Serbia vaccinates almost 10,000 people from neighboring countries

A member of the U.S. Navy prepares Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines as Vice President Harris visits a vaccination center in Jacksonville, Fla.
UPI Photo

Serbia vaccinated nearly 10,000 people from its neighboring countries against the coronavirus over the weekend, immunizing people from Bosnia and Herzegovina, North Macedonia, Montenegro and Croatia.

Nikola Nikodijevic, president of the city council for the Serbian capital city of Belgrade, said that 9,600 foreign nationals were given a shot of the coronavirus vaccine on Saturday, Al Jazeera reports. Foreigners were also able to receive vaccines in the Serbian cities of Novi Sad and Nis. Another 8,500 immunizations were planned for Sunday.

The vaccines used are versions from Russia and China, Al Jazeera reports.

The Serbian government views the multinational vaccine campaign as a way for businessmen in the region to boost trade, Al Jazeera reports, with the Serbian Chamber of Commerce reaching agreements with partner organizations for this reason.

Al Jazeera notes that the vaccine programs in the smaller countries of Bosnia and North Macedonia have barely begun. Citizens from those countries took to social media to express their gratitude.

However a group of Serbian physicians called the United Against Covid Association (UACA) criticized the government’s decision to have people from other countries travel into Serbia for the vaccines.

“The priority should be to organise a campaign for the vaccination of its own population (which does not exist!) and to systematically fight against the mindless anti-vaccination stances in government-controlled media (which, also does not exist!),” the group said in a statement.

According to Al Jazeera, the UACA questioned why the vaccinations were not instead donated to the neighboring countries to be administered within their own borders.

The news outlet notes that Serbia was successful in procuring enough vaccines for its 7 million person population, but the rollout has been stymied by hesitance among Serbians.

“As a God, I beg you, sign up for the vaccine. We have [vaccines] and we will have vaccines; I’m begging you as God, take it,” Serbian president Aleksandar Vucic said in a televised statement earlier in March.

According to data from the World Health Organization (WHO), Serbia has confirmed over 580,000 coronavirus cases and over 5,000 deaths. 2.2 million vaccine doses have been administered in Serbia.

Tags Al Jazeera Aleksandar Vučić Bosnia and Herzegovina coronavirus vaccine COVID-19 vaccine Croatia North Macedonia Serbia Vaccine Vaccine hesitancy
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