Serbia will start its coronavirus vaccination program on Thursday, its president said Wednesday, launching the EU candidate country ahead of its wealthier neighbors.
The first shots will go to elderly people in nursing homes, President Aleksandar VuÄiÄ‡ told reporters Wednesday, according to AFP. He predicted a mass campaign would begin in mid-January. Nearly 5,000 doses of the BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine arrived in Belgrade on Tuesday, after winning approval from the Serbian regulator on December 18.
That puts Serbia on track to be the first country in continental Europe to distribute the BioNTech/Pfizer jab. The U.K. started earlier this month, and vaccinations are also underway in the U.S.
The EU approved the immunization on Monday, and vaccination in the EU27 is set to begin on Sunday.
VuÄiÄ‡ told reporters that either him, Prime Minister Ana BrnabiÄ‡ or Social Policy Minister Darija KisiÄ‡ TepavÄeviÄ‡ would receive the vaccine in a bid to boost confidence, according to Serbian news outlet N1.
He also noted that Serbia was part of the global COVAX Facility, which aims to reserve vaccines on behalf of countries to equitable distribution.