SKOPJE, North Macedonia — As its neighbors boast of progress in their vaccination programs, North Macedonia is still waiting to deliver its first shot — adding political tension to the tiny nation's pandemic health crisis, and highlighting difficulties that some countries bordering the European Union are facing.
In a statement to The Associated Press, the country's government on Friday said plans to receive 8,000 Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines from neighbor Serbia this week had been held up for “technical reasons” with additional documentation needed for the transfer.
That handover had been expected Thursday with a ceremony planned at the Tabanovce border crossing that Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic had been due to attend. Vucic's office also said that more documentation was needed after the event was canceled.
That news has deeply frustrated North Macedonia which has yet to secure a single dose of COVID vaccine for its 2.1 million population.
North Macedonia, a former Yugoslav republic, has reported more than 96,000 confirmed infections and nearly 3,000 deaths, and currently has a daily infection rate of 15.6 per 100,000 population, as a weekly rolling average, which is lower than the EU average and about half the current infection rate in the United States.