Russia: Covid vaccines will not be mandatory, says Putin amid skepticism
Russian President Vladimir Putin watches military planes flying over the Kremlin and Red Square to mark the 75th anniversary of the victory over Nazi Germany in World War II, Moscow, May 9, 2020.
Alexey Druzhinin | AFP | Getty Images
President Vladimir Putin has ruled that Russia will not make Covid vaccines mandatory for its citizens, saying people should see for themselves the need for vaccination.
Some officials in Russia had offered to make vaccination compulsory, but Putin said on Wednesday that such a move would be “counterproductive”.
Speaking on a video conference on the economy, Putin said officials had analyzed options, including compulsory vaccination for the entire population, or for workers in certain sectors who come into contact with a large number of people. number of people, Russian news agency Tass reported.
This could have made Covid shots made mandatory for people working in fields such as retail, education or transportation. Putin said he did not agree with such a move.
“In my opinion, it is counterproductive and unnecessary to introduce mandatory vaccinations,” he said. “People have to realize this necessity for themselves” and understand that without a vaccine they “can face a very serious and even fatal danger”, especially the elderly.
Putin urged the public to get vaccinated and stressed that the Russian vaccine, Sputnik V, is safe.
“I would like to insist once again and appeal to all our citizens: think carefully, keep in mind that the Russian vaccine – practice has already shown that millions (of people) have used it – is currently the most reliable and safest. “Putin said.” All the conditions for vaccination have been created in our country. “
Despite calls from the president and other senior officials and the installation of walk-in vaccination centers in shopping malls in major cities, Russia has found that a large portion of its population is reluctant to receive an injection of Covid.
Some officials have tried more unusual ways to convince the hesitant, with Moscow offering free ice cream in Red Square to anyone who gets vaccinated and vouchers or gift cards worth 1,000 rubles (around 13.60 dollars) for retirees. Some Russian regions have reportedly offered cash incentives to obtain the vaccine.
The mayor of Moscow, Sergei Sobyanin, has openly expressed his frustration at the slow response to vaccinations.
“It’s remarkable. … People get sick, they keep getting sick, they keep dying. And yet they still don’t want to be vaccinated,” Sobyanin said in comments posted to a video blog on Friday and reported by Reuters.
“We were the first major city in the world to announce the start of mass vaccination. And what?” Sobianin said. “The percentage of people vaccinated in Moscow is lower than in any European city. In some cases, several times.”
He noted that only 1.3 million people in Moscow had received an injection so far, out of 12 million people.
As of Wednesday, just over 11% of the Russian population had received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine, according to data compiled by Our World In Data. This rate is similar to that of India, which has also struggled to launch its vaccination program due to production issues, but lags behind other major economies. The UK, for example, has given over 70% of its populations at least one dose.
Sputnik V’s house
This frustration is more palpable in Russia because it was one of the first countries in the world to approve a Covid vaccine, last August. At first, there were concerns about the safety and effectiveness of Sputnik V, especially as Russia cleared the shot before clinical trials were completed, a move that raised suspicion in the community. international scientist.
However, the Sputnik V vaccine has been shown to be 91.6% effective in preventing people from developing Covid-19, according to peer-reviewed results from its advanced clinical trial which published in the medical journal The Lancet in February.
Despite this, a survey conducted by Russian polling center Levada released in March found that 62% of people did not want to be vaccinated, with the highest level of reluctance among 18-24 year olds.