The first doses of the Pfizer vaccines for the Western Balkans countries that were secured by the European Commission (EC) and Austria will arrive in North Macedonia and the other countries in May. The delivery of the remaining quantities will continue until August, EC announced today.

The Commission confirmed the information that was published by Austria that by the end of August it will deliver 651,000 doses of vaccines to the Western Balkans. Through this facility, North Macedonia should receive 119,000 doses of vaccines.

EC’s President Ursula von der Leyen said that it is of key importance for the vaccination campaigns to take pace everywhere.

” I am happy to announce that we have secured doses to help vaccinate health care workers and other vulnerable groups in the Western Balkans. The European Union stands by our partners in the region, who have been looking to us for support,” Von der Leyen said.

The Enlargement and Neighbourhood Commissioner, Olivér Várhelyii also said that despite the global shortage, the EU will deliver vaccines to save lives in the Western Balkans.

“We have provided support from the start of the COVID-19 pandemic: First, with emergency medical equipment like masks, ventilators, intensive care units and ambulance vehicles; second, by strengthening the resilience. Now, we will help ensure the vaccination of all frontline medical workers across the region, as well as some of the other vulnerable groups. We care about the Western Balkans whose future is in the European Union,” Várhelyii said.

The Austrian Foreign Affairs Minister, Alexander Schallenberg stressed it is a top priority to make COVID-19 vaccines rapidly and comprehensively available to people across Europe.

“Against this backdrop, supporting the Western Balkans to obtain vaccines is an act of European solidarity and an investment in the health and security of the whole region. After all, blank spots on the vaccination map, wherever they may be, pose a danger to all of us. No one is safe until everyone is safe,” said Schallenberg.

Austria facilitates the distribution of these vaccines through legal arrangements with the producer and the Western Balkan partners. The doses are funded from the €70 million package adopted by the Commission in December 2020 to help cover the cost of vaccines, secured under the EU’s advance purchase agreements for the Western Balkan partners.

The overall distribution between countries will be based on the epidemiological needs, prioritising in first instance the medical workers and other vulnerable groups.