Russia is having a hard time motivating people to get vaccinated

by Ryan

Police officers wear masks in Moscow.

Police officers wear masks in Moscow. Dimitar Dilkoff/AFP via Getty Images

There are three widely available COVID-19 vaccines in Russia, but many Russians say they won’t get a shot because they don’t trust something made in their country.

Russia announced last August that it had its first vaccine, called Sputnik V, and President Vladimir Putin’s daughter had been inoculated with it. Researchers have found that Sputnik V, which is also being used in Brazil and Turkey, is about 91 percent effective. Even with multiple vaccination options, only 14 percent of Russia’s 146 million residents have been vaccinated with at least one dose of a vaccine, and the government will not hit its goal of getting 30 million Russians vaccinated by June.

Samyr Oynushev, 29, of Moscow told NBC News he believes COVID-19 vaccines are necessary, but will not get one made in Russia. “If I had a choice, I would rather take a non-Russian vaccine,” he said. “I think that [low vaccination rates] are primarily the fault of the government, that people don’t trust them so much.”

There have been giveaways of cars and groceries to entice people into getting vaccinated, and in Moscow, bars and restaurants have been ordered to serve only people who have proof of vaccination or antibodies. Across Russia, the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths are going up — 619 people died on Saturday, the highest number since Dec. 24, and in Moscow, the highly contagious Delta variant is linked to 90 percent of coronavirus cases reported last week.

A study published in the journal Nature estimates that in St. Petersburg, about 45 percent of residents have COVID-19 antibodies, and that’s another reason why many people are avoiding getting vaccinated. Epidemiologist Vasily Vlassov, infected with COVID-19 in January, is among those who said he does not feel motivated to get a Russian-made vaccine. “Russians know German cars are better than Russia’s cars and they have a problem believing that a Russian vaccine is better,” he told NBC News. Vlassov is now in Israel, and said he is thinking about getting the Pfizer shot before heading home.

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