How is Covid-19 vaccination progressing in Armenia?
The third wave of the coronavirus pandemic continues in Armenia.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, more than 200,000 people have been infected, more than 4,000 have died. About a month ago, Armenia began vaccination against coronavirus on a voluntarily basis.
But so far the process is very slow, about 11,000 people have been vaccinated, just 0.35 percent of the population.
Below: what vaccines are available to residents of the country, why people are avoiding getting vaccinated, and whether there are real reasons for concern.
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“In our local polyclinic, we were the first to come to get vaccinated. The doctors were even surprised that we applied ourselves. For us, the decision to get vaccinated was unambiguous and very clear. My husband and I are at risk because of our age, besides, I just don’t see any other way to overcome the pandemic,” says doctor Vazganush Barseghyan, who has worked in the emergency service for 44 years.
Barseghyan says 2020 was the most difficult year in her career:
“First, the coronavirus, which has become a challenge not only for society, but also for doctors, found us unprepared for this amount of work. Since the medical staff is in a high-risk group and there were a lot of cases of infection, we had to replace each other so as not to leave patients alone.
And then the terrible war period began, which simply cannot be described in words. Many of my colleagues went to the front to work and help the wounded, and the volume of our work quadrupled.”
During the year, Vazganush Barseghyan managed not to get infected, but before her eyes there were people who had to overcome the dire consequences of the coronavirus. Therefore, she recommends that everyone be careful and get vaccinated:
“This year I have already retired and have not been working for several months. Mostly I am at home, go to the suburbs to breathe clean air and no longer communicate with the infected every day, but I think each of us should take care not only about our own health and life, but also about the safety of other people. Everyone knows about the possible side effects of the vaccine, but they cannot be compared with the consequences of the disease.”
She and her husband were vaccinated with AstraZeneca and will receive a second dose in two months. On the day of the vaccination, they felt weakness and a little muscle pain, but the next day everything was gone. And Dr. Vazganush persuades all relatives to get the vaccine as soon as possible in order to return to normal life.
What vaccines are available
Two vaccines are currently being used in Armenia. The British-Swedish AstraZeneca vaccine is available for individuals over 18 years old, and the Russian Sputnik V is still available only to those at risk. At this moment, 24,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccine have been imported to Armenia – for 12,000 people, and the doses of another drug, Sputnik V, received already will be enough for 21,500 people.
Recently, Armenia also purchased the Chinese vaccine CoronaVac for 50,000 people. What population groups will receive this vaccine has not yet been reported.
More than one billion vaccinations have already been made in more than 170 countries around the world, with AstraZeneca in the first place among used vaccines (about 200 million doses), says Gayane Sahakyan, deputy director of the National Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
“There are unfounded fears in Armenia regarding specific vaccines. A striking example of this is the failure of vaccination against human papillomavirus, cervical cancer several years ago. I think the main problem is the lack of information and a powerful wave of anti-propaganda,” says public health specialist David Melik-Nubaryan.
He warns that the third wave of coronavirus in Armenia differs from the first not only in the increase in the number of infected, but also in mortality rates. Now the death rate is 53 percent higher than in the first wave of infection.
According to the Ministry of Health, it is planned to receive 700,000 vaccinations within one year, but for a stable immunity of society, it is necessary that about 70 percent of the population are vaccinated.
None of the vaccinated had significant side effects.
Only local reactions were noticed – redness, irritation, weakness, muscle pain, which disappeared in a short time.
Mobile vaccination stations
In order to increase the number of vaccinated people, mobile vaccination points can be found in various crowded parts of Yerevan for a week. Here, every citizen can receive a preliminary consultation and an initial medical examination, and then the corresponding vaccination.
“In recent days, activity has already been noticed, there are even queues at the cars. We vaccinate not only the citizens of Armenia, but also foreigners wishing to be vaccinated.
After the vaccination, we provide everyone with the so-called “green passports”, in which all the details are noted – the date of vaccination, the name of the vaccine, the first and last name of the citizen, and so on. Mobile stations also operate in two large cities – Vanadzor and Gyumri, ”says Deputy Director of the National Center for Disease Control and Prevention Gayane Sahakyan.
By the way, by the decision of the government, now both a negative test result for coronavirus and a “green passport” of vaccination will give the right to leave the country and cross the border.
Only seven percent of the world’s inhabitants have so far received coronavirus vaccinations, but there are countries such as Israel and the United States where more than 60 percent of the population have been vaccinated.
Experts explain the difference in vaccination rates in the world for various reasons – from anti-propaganda to the country’s economic stability.
According to a JAMnews poll conducted in four polyclinics in Yerevan, only one to two percent of citizens at risk have been vaccinated so far.