Serbia struggling to “persuade” citizens to get vaccinated

Belgrade, April 4 2021: The world is struggling with an uneven vaccine roll out but Serbia faces a different problem, how to persuade its citizens to get the life-saving shot.

The small Balkan country has so many vaccines available it has even offered jabs to any foreigner who can get themself there, sparking an influx of thousands of “vaccine tourists” from neighbouring countries.

The situation is the result of a diplomatic juggle between East and West that saw Belgrade secure deals for nearly 15 million vaccine doses for its population of seven million. With 3 million doses in hand, a buffet of Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Sputnik V and Sinopharm and two million of those already administered, one of Europe’s poorest corners has quickly found itself among the continent’s fastest vaccinators.

However, according to the government, little more than a quarter of those eligible to receive the precious shot applied for one. After Serbia vaccinated most of those who came forward, the pace started to stall.

At the end of March, the number of people receiving their first dose dropped to around 12,000 daily, roughly half the number over the same period last month.

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