Lobbying to get suspicious Russians vaccinated leaves some COVID clinics short

  • Russians wary of vaccines now line up in town near Moscow
  • Record COVID infections drive policies to boost adoption
  • Russia increases production after some exports postponed

VLADIMIR, Russia, July 21 (Reuters) – Alexander tried three times in 10 days to get his first dose of the Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine from Russia in his hometown of Vladimir. On two occasions, supplies ran out as he stood in the queue.

“People line up from 4 a.m. although the center opens at 10 a.m.,” the 33-year-old said as he finally entered the walk-in vaccination room. the city, where medieval churches with golden domes attract crowds of tourists in normal times. years.

A third wave of COVID-19 infections has taken the number of reported daily deaths in Russia to record highs in recent weeks and weak demand for vaccines from a suspicious population has finally started to rise with great official pressure to boost adoption.

The change poses a challenge for Russia, which has signed contracts to supply Sputnik V to countries around the world.

With vaccination now compulsory in some parts of Russia for people performing functions involving close contact with the public, such as waiters and taxi drivers, shortages have arisen.

“At the last minute, we all decided to get vaccinated at the same time,” Maria Koltunova, representative of Vladimir Rospotrebnadzor’s regional health monitoring body, told reporters on July 16. “It caused a problem.”

At the end of last month, after several Russian regions reported vaccine shortages, the Kremlin blamed them on growing demand and storage challenges which it said would be resolved in the coming days. Read more


At the appointment desks of four clinics in different cities in the greater Vladimir region last week, Reuters learned that no shots were available at the moment. The first dates available were next month, all said they could not give a date.

The Industry Department said it was working with the Health Department to close the demand gap in places where it had jumped. The Department of Health did not respond to a request for comment.

Russia produces 30 million sets of doses per month, the Industry Ministry said, and may gradually increase this figure to a monthly figure of 45 to 40 million doses in the coming months.

Overall, nearly 44 million full doses of all vaccines have been distributed for immunization of Russia’s 144 million people, the Minister of Industry said last week.

Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishoustine on Monday ordered the government to check which vaccines were available.

The country does not provide data on vaccine exports and the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), responsible for marketing the vaccine abroad, declined to comment.

An Indian lab said last week that the country’s full deployment should be put on hold until the Russian producer supplies equal amounts of its two doses, which are of different sizes. Read more

Argentina and Guatemala also reported delays in promised deliveries. Read more

Despite launching its vaccine rollout in January and approving four local vaccines for home use, Russia had only administered around 21% of its population in a single injection as of July 9, according to data provided by the Minister of Health Mikhail Murashko, although counting only adults, it would have been higher.

The Kremlin has previously cited “nihilism” among the population; some Russians spoke of mistrust, both of new drugs and government programs.


About 12% of the 1.4 million residents of the Vladimir region 200 km (125 miles) east of Moscow had been vaccinated by July 12, according to data provided by local authorities. Some people said the sudden surge in demand for snapshots was due to a series of government policies.

These included a one-week regional requirement to prove COVID-19 vaccination or recent recovery with QR codes to enter cafes and other places. The policy was rescinded amid an outcry from business and vaccine shortages. Read more

The region has also ordered some companies in the public sector and the service sector to inoculate at least 60% of their employees with a dose by August 15. Cafe owners Dmitry Bolshakov and Alexander Yuriev said oral recommendations came earlier.

The lucky third to be vaccinated Alexander, who only gave his first name due to the sensitivity of the problem, said he had queued for the vaccine on his own after his local clinic said he couldn’t not offer one before the end of August.

But nine out of twelve people approached by Reuters at the city’s vaccination centers said they did not want to be vaccinated but had come under pressure from their employers. The local governor’s office and the health department did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

In a cafe in Vladimir called ZZZed, owner Yuriev, together with officials, set up a vaccination center, starting with the employees of the city’s restaurants. People were filling out their consent forms sitting at the bar under a disco ball.

“We now have a queue of around 1,000 people,” Yuriev said. With demand on the rise, the lack of shots is the next hurdle. “We are limited by the lack of vaccines in the region,” he said.

The acting head of the local health watchdog, Yulia Potselueva, told reporters on July 16 that the vaccine supply issue would be resolved in the near future.

Reporting by Polina Nikolskaya; edited by Polina Ivanova, Joséphine Mason and Philippa Fletcher

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