Municipal councillors in Bulgarian town jump the queue for Covid-19 vaccinations

Four municipal councillors in the southern Bulgarian town of Sandanski have jumped the queue for vaccinations against Covid-19, an investigation ordered by Health Minister Kostadin Angelov has established.

Angelov said in a Facebook post on January 10 that the names of the four municipal councillors had been found in a register of those who had been vaccinated.

The national plan for vaccination places front-line medical personnel in the first phase of vaccinations, which began on December 27. Those holding public office are in the third phase, not due to start for quite some time.

Angelov said that on the first working day, January 11, explanations would be required from those responsible for vaccinations in Sandanski.

“Our actions in connection with the vaccination of each individual Bulgarian are subject to clear and precise rules set out in the national plan. I will not allow institutions or individuals to violate them!” he said.

Announcing on January 9 that he had ordered the investigation, Angelov said if it was proven that the order for vaccinations had been violated, “all officials from the system of the Ministry of Health, responsible for the implementation of the plan in the region, will suffer the most severe sanctions”.

“I take this opportunity to state that under no circumstances and at any cost will I allow the plan for vaccination of Bulgarian citizens to be circumvented or trampled on…any political speculation and attempts to use the situation for political purposes are not only immoral, but in some cases illegal,” Angelov said.

The investigation was ordered after Tsvetan Tsvetanov’s extra-parliamentary Republicans for Bulgaria party alleged that the vaccinations had taken place, and that those vaccinated included the chairperson of the municipal council, Nikolai Shalamandov of the ultra-nationalist VMRO, which at national level is the minority partner in Boiko Borissov’s coalition government.

Tsvetanov’s party also cited what it called “unconfirmed information” alleging that Sandanski mayor Atanas Stoyanov had been among those vaccinated. Stoyanov was elected on a VMRO ticket.

The Republicans for Bulgaria party alleged that a list of representatives of the two ruling parties was being drawn up, with it being unclear whether this was for implementation in the third phase of vaccaintions “or is part of another violation”.

The leader of Borissov’s GERB party in Sandanski, municipal councillor Stoyan Stoev, told Radio Blagoevgrad that he had “no specific information” about vaccines being given to councillors in Sandanski.

Stoev said that of the GERB municipal councillors, only one had been vaccinated, who he described as being “an active front-line teacher”.

Teachers are in the list for the second phase of vaccinations.

Stoev said that GERB municipal councillors had received invitations to be vaccinated but had turned them down because they believed that medical personnel, and those on the front lines and in vulnerable groups, should be immunised first, while they would wait their turn.

GERB considered it immoral for politicians to be vaccinated at this stage, the party said.

Shalamandov told television station bTV that he had not wanted to be vaccinated, but the doses used were left over after medics had been vaccinated, and if they had not been used they would expire and have to be discarded.

(Photo: Tiggermouse from Pixabay)

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The Sofia Globe staff

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