Serbia started inoculating its migrant population on Friday to stop the coronavirus from spreading in refugee camps where social distancing is a challenge.
Currently around 6,000 migrants, mainly from central Asia and the Middle East, are in Serbia, mostly in 16 government-operated camps and coronavirus infections have been recorded.
So far, enough of the AztraZeneca vaccine has been delivered to give 570 migrants their first shot.
“It is so good for us,” Mohammad Rahib, an Afghan from Kabul, said after receiving his vaccine dose at the Krnjaca camp, just outside capital Belgrade.
Belgrade has secured a steady inflow of vaccines through deals with suppliers. According to official data, over 2.1 million people in a country of 7 million have had at least one shot thus far, with the rollout to migrants now also beginning.
“For this … population, inoculation is very important because they are living in a collective center and keeping a physical distance is very hard,” said Abebayehu Assefa Mengistu, a World Health Organization official in Serbia.
“It (vaccination) is an important sign of their inclusion into … society,” said Francesca Bonelli, country representative of the UNHCR, the U.N. Refugee Agency.
Nearly 5,075 people have died from COVID-19 in Serbia.