Mandatory vaccination against coronavirus would be wrong, says Russian deputy PM, warning some citizens still ‘distrust’ all jabs

Russia’s mass immunization campaign against Covid-19 has picked up speed, the country’s deputy prime minister has told RT, saying that despite some anti-vax sentiment, there is no need to force the public to roll up their sleeves.

Speaking as part of an exclusive interview with RT in Russian published on Tuesday, Tatyana Golikova said that the authorities “now have a better understanding” of how to organize the public health campaign, and “more than 6,000 vaccination points have been opened in our country.” Around 89 million sets of doses are now planned to be produced in the first half of this year, she added, with three domestically developed formulas.

“We have defined for ourselves the number of people that we need to vaccinate in order to achieve collective immunity is almost 69 million,” Golikova said. “We are moving actively in this direction and, even at our current rate, we think we can reach these numbers in August, but we expect pace to pick up before then.”

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Asked about the level of skepticism among Russians about receiving the jab, the deputy prime minister said that it was easy to get a distorted picture living in Moscow. “There are a number of citizens here who look at vaccination… with distrust or caution,” she said. “It’s more evident here than in the regions.”

However, Golikova rejected the idea that vaccination should be mandated by law. “Russia has quite a lot of experience with vaccination programs,” she said. “We are used to the fact it is voluntary. And I think it is wrong to try to influence the population’s decisions by saying they can or can’t go out because they aren’t vaccinated, if only because everyone is different. Some people have a medical exemption from vaccination.” She pointed to the fact that 70 million people had received flu jabs without being required to do so by law.

Achieving a sufficient number of immunized people in Russia, the politician claimed, could mean that life will begin to fully return to normal. “We will approach this carefully,” she said, “and I really hope that the wearing of masks will go when we get collective immunity, while the number of infections is decreasing dramatically because of the vaccine.”

On Tuesday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov confirmed that President Vladimir Putin would later receive his first dose of a Russian-made Covid-19 vaccine. However, the press secretary declined to reveal which formula he would be getting, saying only that all three are “good and reliable.”

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