Health Ministry in Pristina denies reports that vaccines will arrive in Kosovo next week; citizens of the region receive vaccines in Serbia

Foto: KoSSev

After some Kosovo media reported, referring to a statement of the Ministry of Health, that the first vaccines will finally be arriving in Kosovo next week, the spokesman of this ministry, Faik Hoti, denied these allegations to the Pristina-based Kallxo portal. Hoti emphasized that they were only informed that the application had been accepted and that vaccines will be delivered, adding that they were not told the exact time of their arrival.

Hoti reiterated that the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI), created to improve access to immunization in poor countries, had informed Kosovo authorities that 24,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccine would soon arrive in Kosovo, stressing that the health ministry only told the media that Kosovo’s application for these vaccines was accepted.

„The Health Ministry, as per the application procedures prepared by COVAX, submitted the application with all the necessary documents which were electronically attached to this mechanism, and COVAX confirmed to the Ministry of Health that the application was accepted and approved,“ he said.

Several Pristina media outlets, however, reported yesterday that AstraZeneca vaccines would be delivered to Kosovo within a week.

No Covid-19 vaccine has yet arrived in Kosovo, except for the first deliveries made by Serbian health authorities late last year. This vaccination process was halted only a few days later, following the reaction of the Pristina authorities and the actions of the Kosovo political and civil public, after which the Prosecutor’s Office in Mitrovica opened an investigation into the delivery of these vaccines. This led to a protest of health workers from the north after several of their colleagues were questioned by the police.

During the pre-election campaign in Kosovo at the beginning of the year, the then authorities announced that Kosovo will receive its first vaccines in February – which did not happen. During that time, the Serbian President repeatedly offered vaccines to Kosovo – an offer Kosovo continually refused.

The head of the Kosovo Chamber of Commerce, Berat Rukiqi, recently refused the help of his colleagues from the Serbian Chamber of Commerce, stating that it was “a matter of principle.” The decision was made despite the representatives of the chambers of commerce in Belgrade and Pristina boasting of good cooperation for years.

While welcoming businessmen from the region in front of a vaccination site in Belgrade today, Rukiqi’s Serbian counterpart Marko Cadez confirmed that some Kosovo businessmen have also registered for the vaccine.

The Chamber of Commerce provided 10,000 vaccines for businessmen across the region, while a crowd of people waiting to be vaccinated has been observed at the vaccination site in Belgrade today.

The Serbian authorities have organized vaccination for the inhabitants of Kosovo in the nearby towns of Raska, Bujanovac, Kursumlija, and Vranje at the beginning of the year. The vaccination is carried out regularly. The Kosovo authorities have denied that Albanians are also receiving vaccines within the Serbian healthcare system – although the reports from the field claim otherwise.

Albania, which also obtained a smaller number of vaccines, came to Kosovo’s rescue, whose help was immediately accepted by the Kosovo authorities. The first 250 healthcare workers from Kosovo were vaccinated last Saturday in Kukes, and the vaccination of another 200 workers is expected today.

As some Belgrade-based media outlets have reported, long lines have been observed as of this morning at border crossings to Serbia. Vaccination checkpoints for citizens of the countries in the region, but foreign tourists as well, were opened yesterday and today in Serbia, which donated a certain number of vaccines to some countries in the region.

There are four types of Covid-19 vaccines available in Serbia so far. The country took the lead in terms of the world when it comes to the number of purchased vaccines. According to a report of foreign agencies, Serbia also became the first country in Europe in which first migrants were vaccinated.

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