Serbia and beyond, how to get the vaccine abroad

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Seventh worldwide, second in Europe after the United Kingdom. There Serbia, with a third of the population having already received the first dose, it is among the best nations for the vaccination campaign, far ahead of being able to open borders to neighboring countries. However, it is not enough to go to Belgrade to get the vaccine.

As he explains in an in-depth analysisInstitute for International Political Studies, Serbia, which is not part of the European Union, has independently chosen which vaccines to import and use.

It has all the major vaccines including Russian Sputnik and Chinese Sinovac, which have not yet been given the green light by the EU.

There is an abundance of doses because there are just 7 million Serbs and with an average young population it was easy to secure the age groups at risk. The campaign was managed through a digital administration system called eGovernment and who sends a text message (you need a Serbian number) with the date, time and place of the injection, as well as the chosen vaccine. Yes, because you can choose which vaccine to get injected.

The first to move towards Serbia were the inhabitants of neighboring countries who are among those with the least doses available in Europe. Then the rest of the continent left as did Count Simone Avogadro di Vigliano whose story was told by Corriere della Sera. When his story became public, hundreds of calls and e-mails arrived at the offices of the Serbian consulate in Milan and the embassy in Rome.

In theory, everyone can go, but being able to register online for the system (it is in Serbian, but with an automatic translator you can find your way around) does not give the certainty of the vaccine. It is a membership application that enters a waiting list. Vaccines are also free for foreigners and even if they do not have a residence permit in the country. Tens of thousands arrived from neighboring countries between late March and early April at the invitation of the government which had 20,000 doses of AstraZeneca expiring. It is open to all without divisions of categories and has also been done to refugees.

Some have called the whole operation “vaccine diplomacy”. Belgrade chooses Western vaccines, but also those that come from the East. He assumes the role of leader of the Balkan area with neighboring countries, to which he has given many doses of all vaccines except the Chinese Sinovac which could even be produced internally. There is also a nice tourist advertisement: come and take a tour with us and we will vaccinate you for free as Cuba had already said, inaugurating vaccination tourism, but with the advantage that you can get there in less time in Serbia.

However, logistics is not something to be underestimated. Throughout the month of April there are no direct flights from Italy, you have to stop in Vienna, Zurich or Budapest. By car from Milan it’s 11 hours. There are bus companies.

In Italy, someone has tried to have Sputnik done in San Marino and in the Vatican whoever enters for work reasons is vaccinated like relatives of employees. The UAE vaccinates those who pass here for work. They offered it for free to all the F1 and Moto Gp teams that participated in the races here. Manager and not only took advantage of the offer. However, leaving Italy and making two trips or staying a month for the two doses of Pfizer is not something for everyone’s pockets.

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