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Serbia Seeks To Ramp Up COVID Vaccinations By Offering To Pay Citizens

People wait to receive doses of the Chinese Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine at a restaurant in Kragujevac, Serbia, in March.

Serbia will pay citizens to get a COVID-19 shot as the government seeks to speed up the Balkan country's flagging vaccination campaign.

President Aleksandar Vucic announced the plan on May 5, saying economic growth depends on vaccinating the population.

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Under the incentive program, the government will pay 3,000 dinars ($30) to anyone who receives at least one vaccine dose by the end of May.

On average, Serbs earn a little over $600 a month.

Vucic said the government cannot discriminate against people based on whether they have been inoculated, but described those who refuse to get the shot as "irresponsible and selfish.”

"That is why we have been thinking about how to reward people who show responsibility," he added.

Vucic also said state employees who are not vaccinated and get sick with COVID-19 will not receive paid leave.

Serbia ranks among the top countries in the world in vaccinating its population of 7 million, but as elsewhere the pace of administering shots has slowed after an initial rush to get vaccinated.

According to government figures, 1.3 million people have been fully vaccinated with either the Sinopharm, Pfizer ,Sputnik V, or AstraZeneca vaccines. The country has a population of around 7 million.

With reporting by dpa