Vaccine Tourism in Serbia: Balancing Between the East and the West
In 2021, the COVID-19 pandemic was at full blast. As a result, the international health community made it clear that massive vaccinations were the only solution to the growing health crisis. Although a relatively small country, and neither rich nor powerful on a global scale, Serbia managed to acquire vaccines from several producers. Consequently, this type of investment gave birth to vaccine tourism in Serbia, which made the country an interesting destination for many foreigners.
Serbia is still not a member of the European Union. Consequently, there were no restrictions and political agendas to prevent the country from sourcing vaccines from Russia or China. On the other hand, there was nothing to prevent Serbia from purchasing vaccines from Western producers.
Let’s take a look at which vaccines are available in Serbia, and how foreigners from both the east and the west can get a shot if a certain vaccine isn’t available in their country.
The first vaccine that was available in Serbia was Phizer-Biotech, and right after came the Russian Sputnik and Chinese Sinopharm. Currently, Serbia offers five different vaccines registered by AIMS, and these include:
- Sputnik V
When it comes to the registration process, it is the same for both Serbian citizens and foreigners. The first step you need to make is showing an interest in the vaccination process by signing a simple form on euprava.gov.rs. However, keep in mind the form is only available in Serbian Cyrillic, and there is still no English version available.
You will notice that there are three categories available:
- Vaccines for Serbian citizens
- Vaccines for foreigners with residence in the Republic of Serbia
- Vaccines for foreigners without residence in the Republic of Serbia
After you choose your status, you will need to give standard information such as your passport number, name, surname, email, phone number, and the preferred municipality of vaccination. If you’re completely unfamiliar with Serbian Cyrillic, or don’t have the time but still want to get your shot, we advise you to seek help. Namely, as foreigners from both the East and the West are looking to get vaccinated, Serbian tourism services such as Belgrade Private Tour are offering help with vaccination as a part of their custom Serbian tour.
Choosing this option can be very helpful because there are also immunization campaigns that only locals know about, and you can get vaccinated without any preregistration process. All you need to do is show up, submit your passport, and get your shot.
Rules of Conduct in Serbia During the Covid-19 Pandemic
Just in most countries around the world, to battle the spreading of the COVID-19 virus, citizens are advised to wear protective masks. This rule is applied for public spaces, and open spaces, and maintaining a distance of half a meter between two persons is also advised.
However, COVID-19 infections are dropping in Serbia, with 2.060 new infections reported every week. That’s 12% of the peak in January, and the number is constantly dropping.
Consequently, outdoor cafes and bars can now operate with no closing time. Furthermore, live music is now allowed and facilities can operate until 1:00 AM.
Retail stores are open 24h seven day a week, and all operating facilities must provide 9 m2 per person. Some exceptions include fitness centers, spas, and gyms, which need to provide 16m2 per individual.
Interestingly, Serbia’s tourism benefited from what is now called “COVID-19 quarantine tourism”. Namely, Serbia became a popular two-week stop-over destination for Indian citizens, as they couldn’t enter other countries unless they spend two weeks in another country en route.
Serbia offered Indian citizens visa-free entry if they were vaccinated and tested negative for the virus. Consequently, thousands of Indian citizens came to Belgrade in July, and Serbia recorded a 39.3 % increase in tourist arrivals and overnight stays.
Amidst the chaos and confusion during the pandemic, Serbia managed to withstand political agendas from both the east and the west and offered vaccination to people from all around the world. So, if you’re planning to visit southern-eastern Europe or the Balkans, don’t forget to stop by Serbia, and experience the famous Serbian hospitality and warm and friendly atmosphere this small country is so known for.