Pashinian complained that less than 3 percent of Armenia’s population has received a first or second dose of a coronavirus vaccine in the last two and a half months.
“As of now, we have about 80,000 vaccinated citizens, which is a very small figure,” he said at the start of the meeting. “We must manage to solve this issue. In order to raise this indicator to a proper level, a lot of work needs to be done, first and foremost in the area of public relations.”
Pashinian sought to allay the population’s lingering fears of life-threatening side-effects of the vaccines. He argued that none of the vaccinated Armenians has died or had serious health problems so far.
Pashinian said the Ministry of Health and other government agencies must do more to encourage people to get vaccinated.
According to a government statement on the meeting, he set specific vaccination rate targets for the heads of those agencies.
The Armenian government has so far imported more than 200,000 doses of vaccines manufactured by Russia, China and the Anglo-Swedish company AstraZeneca.
The statement cited Health Minister Anahit Avanesian as saying that Armenia will receive soon fresh batches of these and other vaccines. It did not give any numbers.
Despite the very slow pace of vaccination and a continuing lax enforcement of sanitary rules, the daily number of new coronavirus cases reported by the Armenian Ministry of Health began steadily declining in mid-April and fell to the lowest level in a year early this month.
The ministry said on Wednesday morning that 128 people tested positive for COVID-19 in the past 24 hours, down from over 1,000 cases a day repeatedly recorded in the country of about 3 million in the first half of April.
Gayane Sahakian, the deputy head of the ministry’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention, warned last week that cases will likely soar again in the coming weeks.