UPDATE 1-Pushing to get suspicious Russians vaccinated leaves some COVID clinics short

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* Russians wary of vaccines now line up in town near Moscow

* Record COVID Infections Lead to Policies to Boost Adoption

* Russia increases production after postponement of some exports (adds official comment from authorities, updates data)

By Polina Nikolskaya

VLADIMIR, Russia, July 21 (Reuters) – Alexander tried three times in 10 days to get his first dose of the Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine from Russia in his hometown of Vladimir. On two occasions, supplies ran out as he stood in the queue.

“People line up from 4 a.m. although the center opens at 10 a.m.,” the 33-year-old said as he finally entered the walk-in vaccination room. the city, where medieval churches with golden domes attract crowds of tourists in normal times. years.

A third wave of COVID-19 infections has taken Russia’s reported daily death toll to record highs in recent weeks, and weak demand for vaccines from a wary population has finally started to increase with great official pressure to stimulate adoption.

The change poses a challenge for Russia, which has signed contracts to supply Sputnik V to countries around the world.

Since vaccination is now compulsory in some Russian regions for people working in close contact with the public, such as waiters and taxi drivers, shortages have arisen.

“At the last minute, we all decided to get vaccinated at the same time,” Maria Koltunova, representative of Vladimir Rospotrebnadzor’s regional health monitoring body, told reporters on July 16. “It caused a problem.”

Last month, the Kremlin blamed vaccine shortages in some areas on growing demand and storage challenges, but said these would be resolved.

HEDGES

At the appointment desks of four clinics in different cities in the greater Vladimir region last week, Reuters learned that no shots were available at the moment. The first appointments available were next month and none could give a date.

The Industry Department said it was working with the Health Department to close the demand gap in places where it had jumped. The Department of Health did not respond to a request for comment.

Russia produces 30 million sets of doses per month, the Industry Ministry said, and may gradually increase this figure to a monthly figure of 40 to 45 million doses in the coming months.

Overall, nearly 44 million full doses of all vaccines have been distributed for immunization of Russia’s 144 million people, the Minister of Industry said last week.

Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin on Monday ordered the government to check which vaccines were available.

Russia does not provide data on vaccine exports and the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), responsible for marketing the vaccine abroad, declined to comment.

An Indian lab said last week that the country’s full deployment should be put on hold until the Russian producer supplies equal amounts of its two doses, which are of different sizes.

Argentina and Guatemala also reported delays in promised deliveries.

Despite launching its vaccine rollout in January and approving four local vaccines for home use, Russia had only administered around 21% of its population in a single injection as of July 9, according to data provided by the Minister of Health Mikhail Murashko, although counting only adults, it would have been higher.

The Kremlin had previously blamed “nihilism” among the population; some Russians spoke of mistrust, both of new drugs and government programs.

UNDER PRESSURE

About 14% of the 1.4 million people in the Vladimir region 200 km (125 miles) east of Moscow were shot on July 19, according to data provided by local authorities.

Many residents were previously reluctant to get vaccinated for a variety of reasons, including a misunderstanding of antibodies, confusion over anti-vaccines and “fake news,” the regional health department told Reuters.

The sudden surge in demand for vaccines is due to a third wave of coronavirus, the vaccine shortage and a series of government measures, authorities said.

These included a one-week regional requirement to prove COVID-19 vaccination or recent recovery with QR codes to enter cafes and other places. The policy was canceled amid a business uproar and vaccine shortages.

The region has also ordered some companies in the public sector and the service sector to vaccinate at least 60% of their employees with a dose by August 15.

The lucky third to be vaccinated Alexander, who only gave his first name due to the sensitivity of the problem, said he had queued for the vaccine on his own after his local clinic said he couldn’t not offer one before the end of August.

But nine out of twelve people approached by Reuters at the city’s vaccination centers said they did not want to be vaccinated but had come under pressure from their employers. The local governor’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the pressure.

The regional health department said it was working in universities, businesses and malls to try to persuade people to get vaccinated.

In a cafe in Vladimir called ZZZed, owner Alexander Yuriev, together with officials, set up a vaccination center, starting with the employees of the city’s restaurants. People were filling out their consent forms sitting at the bar under a disco ball.

“We now have a queue of around 1,000 people,” Yuriev said, adding: “We are limited by the lack of vaccines in the region.”

The regional administration’s press office said more than 18,000 people were on a waiting list for vaccinations as of July 21. The region had received 12,000 doses over the weekend and was expecting nearly 11,000 more, he said. (Reporting by Polina Nikolskaya; editing by Polina Ivanova, Josephine Mason, Philippa Fletcher and Gareth Jones)


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