Bulgaria’s caretaker Health Minister urges public to be vaccinated against Covid-19

Five days after taking office, Bulgaria’s caretaker Health Minister Stoicho Katsarov posted a video on YouTube on May 17 appealing to the public to be vaccinated against Covid-19.

Bulgaria began its vaccination campaign against Covid-19 on December 27.

According to the national information system daily report on May 17, a total 3390 doses of vaccines against Covid-19 were administered in the past 24 hours, bringing the total to 1 116 741.

So far, 414 729 people in Bulgaria have completed the vaccination cycle, meaning either that they have received a second dose or one from a single-dose vaccine. This figure includes 1581 in the past 24 hours.

“We all want an hour sooner to remove the restrictive measures and return to our normal way of life. The decrease in the spread of the virus that we have registered in recent weeks is due to time rather than our actions,” Katsarov said in the video.

“The danger has not passed and no one can guarantee that the virus will not return. Like it or not, the only way there is any definite evidence so far that it reduces the spread of the virus and mortality is vaccination,” he said.

Katsarov said that everyone can see the change in these indicators in countries that had managed to vaccinate most of their population.

“Unfortunately, we are the last in the European Union on this indicator as well,” he said.

“Even worse, the vaccination rate among the most vulnerable people – the elderly and those with severe chronic diseases – remains very low.

“I know that many doubt the safety of vaccines. I also had my reservations mostly because of the short duration and scope of the clinical trials,” Katsarov said.

However, the fact is that vaccines have already been given to hundreds of millions of people worldwide and the number of side effects reported is extremely low. It is also obvious to non-specialists that the benefits far outweigh the risks, he said.

“We have already paid a high enough price.

“In the past six months alone, 26 000 more people died than died in the same period of the year in each of the past five years,” Katsarov said.

This was more than twice as many victims as Bulgaria suffered during the Second World War, and 80 per cent of Bulgarians who died from Covid-19 were over 60 years old, he said.

“That is why today I issued an order ordering all vaccination points, from Monday to Thursday, to vaccinate people over the age of 60 and those with severe chronic diseases.

“On the other days of the week, everyone will be vaccinated in the order of registration. This order will be valid for the next two months.”

“I ordered the regional health inspectorates to ensure the delivery of vaccines to general practitioners, as well as to organise mobile teams for vaccination of seriously ill and those in remote places.”

Assistance will be provided by social services, the Ministry of Interior, regional governors, mayors and health mediators.

“I remind everyone that vaccination is free, whether they have health insurance or not,” Katsarov said.

“How long the measures will last depends on when we will reach collective immunity. Vaccination is voluntary and everyone must decide for themselves and their loved ones.

“I can’t protect you from the disease if you don’t want to. We have created the necessary organization and if something is not right, we are ready to correct it immediately.

“Success or failure will depend on every citizen of our society, regardless of age, gender, ethnicity and religion, financial means or status in society. Let’s do it,” Katsarov said.

In a separate statement, the Health Ministry said that on May 17, a total of 273 780 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine arrived in Bulgaria and were immediately distributed to the regional health inspectorates in the country.

The next delivery of vaccines against Covid-19 is expected on May 19, a total of 19 200 doses of the Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) vaccine.

For the rest of The Sofia Globe’s continuing coverage of the Covid-19 situation in Bulgaria, please click here.

The Sofia Globe’s coverage of the Covid-19 situation in Bulgaria is supported by the Embassies of Switzerland and Finland.

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The Sofia Globe staff

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