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10 Nov, 2021 10:00

Russia’s second city introduces compulsory Covid-19 vaccinations for over-60s

Russia’s second city introduces compulsory Covid-19 vaccinations for over-60s

Health officials in St. Petersburg have signed a decree requiring the elderly and vulnerable to sign up for a coronavirus vaccine, as Russia announces another record day of death from the virus since the start of the pandemic.

The mandate, signed on Tuesday by the city’s chief sanitary doctor, Natalia Bashketova, states that all those over the age of 60, and people suffering from chronic diseases, must receive their first dose by December 15, and a second jab a month later. It is as-yet unclear whether refusing the “epidemic indication vaccination” could lead to legal or administrative action.

St. Petersburg, home to around five million residents, has been one of the Russian cities hardest-hit by the pandemic, following only Moscow in the number of overall deaths. Since March 2020, almost 25,000 people are said to have died from Covid-19.

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The country has seen a sharp spike in coronavirus cases in recent weeks, with the daily mortality count hitting record highs over the course of successive days in October and March. On Tuesday, officials reported that 1,239 people had passed away from Covid-19, the maximum recorded so far.

On Monday, Moscow reopened shops, bars, restaurants and cafes that had been shuttered for over a week after Mayor Sergey Sobyanin introduced a ‘non-working regime’ in a bid to stop the spread of the virus. Other cities across the country have introduced a range of measures, including requiring public sector workers and the clinically vulnerable to sign up for jabs.

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Moscow’s RBK business daily reported on Tuesday that officials are considering implementing an effective ban on unvaccinated people traveling domestically by train or airplane. According to a source, operators could be required to scan QR codes distributed to those who have already had jabs. However, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters that such a scheme would be for local leaders to decide on, rather than a national initiative.

Russians have consistently ranked among the most reluctant to receive Covid-19 vaccines in international studies, and the national immunization program has been hampered by skepticism. President Vladimir Putin has sought to reassure people that “not a single serious case of complications” has occurred during the nationwide rollout of jabs, insisting that “there is nothing to be afraid of here.”

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