Albanian Student Unions Oppose Making Vaccination Mandatory

Albanian student organisations told BIRN that the vaccination of students should not be mandatory, although they support COVID-19 vaccination in principle.

Vaccination of pupils, students and education workers, along with health workers, became mandatory in Albania in Augustand, while the new academic year has been postponed for a week, the country has started "mass vaccinations" in every university.

Rigels Xhemollari, a youth and education expert, who runs "Qendresa Qytetare", which focuses on education in Albania, told BIRN that they support the vaccination of students, but not mandatory vaccination.

"We have reservations about the policies undertaken for students. In Albania today, by order of the Minister, entry to a university without a vaccine is prohibited, but in no other social environment is the vaccine required. It was not demanded yesterday in the stadium, in the podiums of politicians or at celebrations organised by municipalities," he told BIRN.

He added that the authorities have also not communicated properly with students about possible risks of jabs but only forced them to take the vaccine.

BIRN asked the Albanian Ministry of Health on Wednesday about the total number students that have been vaccinated so far, and was told that the data "is in progress".

Media reported on Wednesday that the University of Elbasan would organise a meeting with students this Thursday to inform them about vaccines; the vaccination rate in this university remains low.

Glevio Tabaku, from the National Board of the Students, told BIRN that mandatory vaccination is not the right way to approach students, and a proper communication plan was needed to approach them and make them willing to get vaccinated.

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