After two months Armenia Severe Covid-19 restrictions have been introduced that have made vaccinations almost mandatory amid record death rates, and daily case numbers have fallen dramatically, but the country is still fighting a strong vaccine rejection movement.
New reported infections are still relatively high at more than 500 a day but are down from more than 2,000 in late October.
About 15 percent of the population is now doubly vaccinated, compared to five percent when new restrictions were imposed on October 1.
However, Armenia remains the country with the lowest vaccination rates in the Caucasus country, with the average number of coronavirus deaths averaging more than 30 per day – a significant number considering its population is only three million. It has one of the highest per capita death rates in the world, according to the Our World in Data website.
Under the new rules, most unvaccinated public and private sector employees were required to take a PCR test twice a month at their own expense, with prices coming in at nearly $20 each time – a significant sum given the slightly more average monthly salary. about 400 dollars.
However, a recent update to the rules means that PCR tests must now be done on a weekly basis. From January 1, a health card is required to enter cultural and recreational venues.
Vaccine skepticism has a history in Armenia
Dr. Gayani Sahakian, who runs Armenia’s national immunization programme, said the country aims to vaccinate at least 50 percent of the population with at least one dose by the end of the year.
However, she said, the spread of misinformation and the politicization of the issue continue to increase mistrust of vaccines against COVID-19.
“The skepticism of vaccines has a history in Armenia, it is somewhat politicized. If a political party wants to mobilize opposition to the government, it uses immunization and COVID-19 is no different,” said Dr. Sahakian.
“People’s main concern is safety and efficacy because they are new vaccines. Some think they are very new, others think they are a global tool for population control. In Armenia, the only new thing here is that political parties are now using doctors to get this message across.”
According to local media, doctors and medical professionals have been instrumental in spreading misinformation about the safety and role of doctors COVID-19 Vaccines.
One of those doctors, a sexual pathologist named Samvel Grigoryan, tried to give weight to a conspiracy theory that has spread widely in the epidemic, claiming that vaccines were created using technology used in genetic engineering and could jeopardize reproductive health.
The US Center for Disease Control said there is no evidence that new vaccines against COVID-19 cause sterility.
Gregorian has been a vocal critic of the Department of Health since his dismissal as director of the HIV Center in 2020, Media.am reported.
He and other doctors are affiliated with initiatives such as Free Will, a group set up by right-wing politicians to combat government vaccination efforts.
Dr. Sahakian said that Sinopharm is more reliable in Armenia than other vaccines, such as AstraZeneca, as people believe the side effects are milder.
In late November, Poland donated more than 200,000 AstraZeneca rounds to the country in an effort to help it combat a lukewarm reception of vaccines. However, since the British vaccination, as well as other vaccines produced in the West such as Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech, are not trusted by locals, most of them went to vaccinate tourists from countries such as Iran, said Dr. Sahakian..[[ Does writer mean- most went to countries such as Iran to obtain the vaccine of their choice]]
“We did not get all the information”
The vaccination campaign in Armenia is also hampered by health concerns among the elderly and the repercussions of last year war With Azerbaijan around the Nagorno-Karabakh enclave.
The tension caused by border skirmishes and feelings of insecurity has made residents near the area indifferent to the pandemic.
Many Armenian citizens are divided by the current measures, arguing that they are either too severe or do not go far enough to curb the high death rates.
Hashmik Sargsyan, 55, a teacher in rural Aragatsotn, said it was becoming harder to fathom fact from fiction, with the government doing little to address residents’ concerns.
“The information provided by the government via television and the Internet is very limited and difficult to understand,” she said.
Sargsyan, who contracted COVID-19 in August, has not yet been vaccinated, but she plans to get vaccinated in the coming days, relying on her children to guide them to any.
“Some doctors in our hospitals are making us more worried about vaccines, while government officials are asking us to rely on consultations with doctors. Rumors about side effects are everywhere and we have a lot of questions, but no one is willing to provide answers. It is hard to distinguish,” she said. between reliable information and what we should be wary of.”
Maryam Ghazrian, 24, who works as a shop assistant at one of the largest bookstores in Yerevan, said people are not respecting COVID-19 restrictions such as wearing masks, which puts her at risk every day.
“I meet around 400-500 people in the store every day and ask most of them to wear a mask. Young people are the most reckless. Every time I ask them, they react negatively as if they don’t care. Not many even believe or act that COVID-19 exists at all. Like a game.”
Ghazarian also contracted COVID-19 earlier this year but has since been vaccinated with Moderna. She said not much has been done to make sure people adhere to COVID-19 measures in public.
Personally, I don’t think there is a bad thing about vaccines, but government directives have not been implemented as they should have been. It’s been done poorly – we don’t get complete information about vaccines and you can’t understand how to read the flow of information to get the full picture.”