Bulgaria’s caretaker Health Minister: In 2 months, 80% of over-60s will have had at least one dose

If the current rate of vaccination against Covid-19 continues, in two months 80 per cent of people in Bulgaria over the age of 60 will have had at least one dose of vaccine, caretaker Health Minister Stoicho Katsarov told European Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides on June 17.

Katsarov said that this was a “realistic goal”, according to a Health Ministry statement.

The statement said that Katsarov and Kyriakides discussed the epidemic situation and the immunisation coverage on the territory of the European Union, as well as the problems faced by EU countries in implementing their vaccination campaigns.

Katsarov said that one of the first tasks he and his team set for themselves on taking office was to vaccinate people over the age of 60.

“The registered high mortality rate comes from the fact that people over the age of 60 were not a priority group in the national vaccination plan,” he said.

“Young people associate the vaccine with the freedom to travel, and for adults it is equivalent to life,” Katsarov said.

He said that in the past month, the number of people vaccinated in the over-60 age group had doubled. Currently, about 40 per cent of people over 60 had received at least one dose.

Katsarov said that the main reasons for the low vaccination coverage in Bulgaria were the reluctance of a large part of Bulgarians to be vaccinated, as well as the “calm” among the public because of the decreasing number of people infected with Covid-19.

“We have improved the logistics to make sure that every general practitioner will have access to the vaccines his patients need. But the rate of vaccination remains very low and this is not due to poor organisation,” he said.

Katsarov said that the Health Ministry was launching an information campaign on the benefits of vaccines, but it was belated.

“This is something that should have been done at the beginning of the year to have an effect now. In this way, we would avoid mistrust in vaccines, myths and lies that are spread among people, “he said.

Kyriakides’s visit to Sofia coincided with the release of the results of a Eurobarometer poll, done in May 2021, that showed that 23 per cent of Bulgarians said that they would “never” get vaccinated against Covid-19 – the highest percentage in an EU country.

After meeting Katsarov, Kyriakides tweeted: “The EU will continue to support Bulgaria in accelerating vaccinations so that as many citizens as possible can swiftly access them”.

In a separate tweet, she said: “While in Sofia, I also had the opportunity to visit a mobile vaccination centre and see first hand the progress of Bulgaria’s vaccination rollout. Vaccines work. Vaccines protect against infection, hospitalisation and loss of life. Every hour and every dose matters”.

Earlier on June 17, Kyriakides met President Roumen Radev. In a tweet after the meeting, she said: “We discussed #COVID19 vaccination in Bulgaria and ways the EU can support its acceleration. Access for all citizens is the most effective tool to protect public health and safely reopen the economy and society”.

(Photos: Bulgaria’s Health Ministry and via Kyriakides’s Twitter account)

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