The Albanian government has announced that vaccines against COVID-19 will be mandatory for those working in public administration, the police, pharmacists and laboratory technicians.
This comes after the decision to make the vaccine mandatory for doctors, teachers, and students over the age of 18.
The decision was made public by Deputy Health Minister Eugena Tomini. Doctors, teachers and students have until 30 September to get a vaccine while no date has been announced for the second group.
As of yesterday, there are 11,288 active confirmed cases of the virus in Albania. 114 patients are being treated at the infectious diseases hospital in Tirana.
These decisions follow those made in other countries such as France, Greece, the US, and Italy. Some companies. like Google and Facebook have also made vaccination mandatory for their staff.
Vaccine uptake in Albania is some of the lowest in Europe with just 22% of the population having both doses. A total of 29% have had one dose.
Leading the way for mass vaccination is the UAE, with 87% of the population having had at least one dose. The EU country of Malta has vaccinated 82% of the country with both doses, leading the way globally.
In Europe, the countries with the highest rates of vaccination after Malta are Iceland and Portugal with 84%, Spain 77%, Iceland 77%, Ireland 75%, Belgium 73%, UK 72%, France 72%, Norway 72% and Italy 71%.
A recent report by the Albanian Intelligence Services found that Albania has been targeted by “aggressive disinformation and misinformation campaigns that negatively affected the response and public perception of the real danger of the pandemic.”
Many of these campaigns were created by non-Western state actors and non-state actors who exacerbated the crisis and undermined efforts to overcome it. Disinformation was most prevalent on social media networks. Funded disinformation campaigns saw the rapid spread of false information and conspiracy theories, feeding into a public feeling of insecurity.
There has also been a prevalence of antisemitic conspiracy theories including comparing mandatory vaccination to the holocaust, the confusion of mandatory vaccination with forced vaccination, and extensive disinformation on the vaccines themselves.
Albania has now introduced entry requirements for those coming to the country. Anyone over the age of one must present either a vaccination certificate, a PCR test, a serology test, or evidence they have recovered from COVID-19 in the last six months. This requirement comes into force on 6 September.