Kosovo’s health authorities are trying a new technique to persuade people to get the COVID-19 vaccine — cooperating with the Muslim community at Friday prayers.
Imams around Kosovo called on the faithful to get the jab while medical teams waited in the mosques’ yards to inoculate them.
Despite a recent fall of daily new cases, Kosovo authorities fear a faster spread of the delta variant which has been noted recently. They insist that the vaccine is the best tool to contain the pandemic.
There has been a fall of interest in people wanting the vaccine, from 20,000 a day at the beginning in March to less than 2,000 a day this week. Some 42% of the population of 1.8 million population have been vaccinated.
“This is a very good initiative. I thank the Islamic community, the government and the ministry of health for a very important initiative, which is very much needed,” said Ruzhdi Zhitia, a retired man who received his jab after prayers.
At the capital Pristina's main mosque, a few hundred people were at prayers, and many of them went on to receive the Pfizer vaccine.
This month Kosovo has seen a significant fall in daily new cases. On Thursday only 11 were reported and there were no deaths.
Authorities continue to impose some restrictive measures, such as an overnight curfew, and masks are mandatory indoors and out.
Imam Burhan Hashani of the Sultan Mehmed 2 mosque in Pristina was among those calling on the faithful to have the jab, and his message went down well.
“It’s the first time I have heard the imam calling for vaccination. Everybody should get vaccinated, no matter the gender and age. We all should get it,” said Egzon Daka, a young man at the mosque.