Slow vaccine uptake in Armenia, ministers to 'lead by example'
Armenia has been running its nation-wide Covid-19 vaccination programme for more than two weeks now, however with little result.
Just 2,690 people have been vaccinated, with Armenian Acting PM Pashinyan calling the figure ‘shamefully low.’
He ordered cabinet ministers to get vaccinated within a week.
Currently, there country has the Anglo-Swedish AstraZeneca and the Russian Sputnik V vaccines. It is reported the country is planning to import a Chinese vaccine as well.
The first confirmed case of COVID-19 in Armenia was registered on March 1, 2020. From March 16 to September 11, 2020, a state of emergency was in effect. Then, a quarantine was introduced in the country, and it is expected to last until July 11, 2021. Over the last 24 hours, 656 new cases of infection have been registered. In total, there are 215,528 infected people in the country, 197,171 of whom have recovered and 4,087 have died.
Vaccinated people will be able to travel without getting tested
“Next week, changes to the quarantine regime will come into effect. Vaccinated people will no longer need to take a PCR test to leave or enter the country, but this will only apply to citizens of Armenia. This is an important step to overcome limitations and return to normal life”, Armenian Minister of Health, Anahit Avanesyan said at a briefing on April 29.
Anahit Avanesyan stated that citizens over 18 years of age can now be vaccinated with AstraZeneca, and new batches of both this vaccine and Sputnik V are expected.
As per the doctors’ observations, residents of the country are showing high interest in the Russian Sputnik V vaccine, however, it is only available to high-risk groups.
“Let’s start with us” – acting prime minister
Members of the Armenian government and government officials must be vaccinated, Nikol Pashinyan stated during the meeting of the Cabinet of Ministers:
“Let’s start with us. We all need to get vaccinated. At the moment, only 2,690 people have been vaccinated in Armenia. This is a shamefully low figure, now in the world, the number of vaccinated citizens is a sign of the country’s quality in all aspects – both economic and political”.
PM Pashinyan believes that if the authorities say that all citizens over 18 years old can be vaccinated, then it is necessary to show a good example and start by vaccinating all employees of state departments:
“In government agencies, we must lead by example so that everyone can see that we are vaccinated and continue to live”.
PM Pashinyan reaffirmed that vaccination is necessary both for the unhindered departure of Armenian citizens from the country and for increasing the number of tourists wishing to visit the country:
“If no one is vaccinated here, the country will be considered risky and no one will come here”.
Vaccination of members of the government
Armenian Minister of Health Anahit Avanesyan and Deputy Prime Minister Tigran Avinyan got vaccinated against coronavirus with the Anglo-Swedish vaccine AstraZeneca.
Deputy Prime Minister Tigran Avinyan explained that the choice of the AstraZeneca vaccine was not accidental, as this particular vaccine is associated with the most rumors and anxiety:
“As per the official figures, only a few dozen people out of two hundred million vaccinated with AstraZeneca developed side effects. Now rumors about the vaccine are spreading very actively, and we decided to show by example our confidence that this is a high-quality vaccine”.
The head of the Ministry of Health also addressed this issue touched upon this topic:
“Our citizens trust the Sputnik V vaccine, and they have questions about AstraZeneca. To be honest, at first, we were not even going to disclose information about the vaccines we chose, since they are all of high quality and effective”.
Anahit Avanesyan also urged members of the government to show by their example that vaccination is an important step, and have the citizens of the country follow their example:
“The risk of side effects, even small ones, caused by the vaccine is practically zero when compared to the risks caused by the COVID-19, as well as severe damage to the body or death that it can result in”.