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Vaccine rollout not hitting target, Russia’s deputy PM warns, as nationalist party leader calls for jab refusal to be made illegal

Vaccine rollout not hitting target, Russia’s deputy PM warns, as nationalist party leader calls for jab refusal to be made illegal
The uptake of Covid-19 vaccines in Russia is still far too low, Moscow has said, amidst record-breaking numbers of new cases and deaths in the country, despite nationwide efforts to encourage more citizens to go and get the jab.

On Wednesday, Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova counseled that the number of citizens who have had their first dose of a domestically made vaccine does not meet targets set by the country’s government.

According to her, an average of only 67.8% of Russians have received their first vaccination, out of a target 80% of the population.

The country has fallen behind many other European nations when it comes to people signing up for immunizations, with fewer than one in three Russians having had both doses at present. Previous research has shown that Russians are among the most skeptical of coronavirus vaccines anywhere in the world.

Also on rt.com Make Covid-19 jabs compulsory, Russian bosses demand, as business fears big losses from new ‘non-working days’ after record deaths

On Thursday, health officials said that the country had recorded a new daily high of over 40,000 official new coronavirus cases for the first time since the start of the pandemic in March last year. The number of deaths from the virus also set a grizzly new record, with 1,159 recorded, bringing the total number since March 2020 up to 235,057.

On Wednesday, business associations sent a letter to Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Grigorenko requesting that vaccines become compulsory in the country and are distributed free of charge, in order to avoid new restrictive measures. The government has implemented a series of non-working days, beginning on Thursday, shutting businesses and schools for several days, as well as a possible 11pm curfew on nightlife.

The leader of Russia’s right-wing LDPR party, the third largest in the country’s parliament, has since unveiled a series of proposals designed to criminalize vaccine skepticism. In a bombastic interview with Radio Russia on Thursday, Vladimir Zhirinovsky said that there should be legal penalties levied against those who refuse to get a jab, and MPs opposed to vaccine initiatives should be arrested. Zhirinovsky has repeatedly polled as the most trusted non-government politician among Russians.

Also on rt.com 40,000 cases, 1,159 deaths: Russia sets Covid-19 daily record as Moscow shuts down hospitality & retail for first time since 2020

In order to boost vaccination uptake and give citizens more of an incentive to get their jabs, various regions throughout Russia have implemented a range of initiatives. In early October, the governor of Kursk Region announced that officials would stop repairing roads in districts where the numbers of people getting their shot remain low. Over the summer, Russians who have been vaccinated were offered the opportunity to be entered into a national lottery, with a grand prize of 100,000 rubles (about $1,378).

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