Serbians queue to get COVID-19 vaccine and shopping voucher

iStock (illustration)

Dozens of people gathered at a major mall in Belgrade on Thursday hoping to be among the first to get a COVID-19 vaccine and with it a shopping voucher, in the latest initiative by authorities to encourage more Serbians to get inoculated.

Since last December, Serbia has vaccinated 29.81 per cent of its population of around 7 million with at least one dose.

The government now wants to accelerate the programme, including drop-in vaccination centres and facilities in shopping malls.

"People should be responsible ... and seize the opportunity (to have a vaccine) ... as we reach out to them," said doctor Zoran Vekic, who coordinated Thursday's event.

In the Usce shopping mall, people crowded to get their shot and be among the first 100 to receive a voucher worth 3,000 dinars ($30.74) from the mall's management and retailers.

"This is actually ingenious, as it motivates people so well," said Nikolina, a woman in her 30s.

To speed up vaccinations, President Aleksandar Vucic on Wednesday also said he had asked the government to make a separate one-time payment to everyone older than 16 who receives one or both shots by May 31.

COVID-19 infections have gradually declined in recent weeks to a daily total of around 1,200, and the government is keen to bring them down further to allow it to open up the economy further.

Restaurants, cafes, bars and clubs are restricted to serving outdoors only, but markets and shops are open and there are no restrictions for travelling inside the country.

Serbia last month increased its 2021 budget deficit to 6.9% of economic output, up from 3 per cent, to mitigate the effects of COVID-19, including payments and subsidies to citizens, pensioners, and businesses.

Belgrade has also secured a steady supply of vaccines since December, allowing people to pick between four manufacturers; Pfizer/BioNtech, China's Sinopharm, AstraZeneca/Oxford and Russia's Sputnik V.

COVID-19 has killed 6,478 people in Serbia and 695,875 were infected.

More from International

Coming Up on Dubai Eye

  • Extra Time

    7:00pm - 8:00pm

    Chris & Robbie bring you the latest from the sporting world plus interviews with upcoming and legendary sporting stars.

  • The Night Shift with Mark Lloyd

    8:00pm - 10:00pm

    Musicians and music, entertainers and entertainment, industry gossip and songs selected by you, get ready to bring your night time to life! Every evening from nine, Mark Lloyd brings you an energetic mix of local and international content and contests, featuring an array of celebrity interviews and entertaining anecdotes. Get involved in the show and pick your favourite jukebox hits, every night from 8pm - 11pm.

On Dubai Eye

  • Helen's Postpartum Struggles

    Every weekday afternoon, Helen Farmer will help you to navigate the highs and lows of life in the UAE.

  • FARMER'S KITCHEN

    Farmer's Kitchen is back for 2021!
    With our partners Spinneys, we are going to help you wave goodbye to boring dinners, cluttered fridges, and lumpy leftovers!