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Health Minister Wants Financial Incentives For COVID-19 Vaccination


Armenia - People line up at an open-air coronavirus vaccination site in Yerevan, May 7, 2021.

Many Armenians reluctant to get vaccinated must be required to regularly take coronavirus tests and pay for them, Health Minister Anahit Avanesian said on Thursday.

Avanesian said that the Armenian Ministry of Health is now working on a package of this and other administrative measures designed to accelerate the slow pace of COVID-19 vaccination in Armenia. It will be submitted to the government for approval soon, she told reporters.

The ministry reported on Monday that a total of about 195,000 vaccine shots have been administered in the country of about 3 million since the launch of the government’s immunization campaign in April. Only 62,373 people have received two doses of vaccines.

Avanesian indicated that vaccine hesitancy remains a serious problem despite government efforts to raise public awareness of vaccination and its importance. The government and health authorities must therefore act more forcefully, she said.

“Those individuals who refuse vaccination for some reason … must take two [coronavirus] tests a month,” she went on. “Unfortunately, we don’t want to get vaccinated, wear masks or do anything else but think that we can beat the disease. Unfortunately, that’s not possible.”

The minister believes that this requirement must apply to civil servants, schoolteachers and other public sector employees as well as workers of private firms involved in the services sectors of the Armenian economy. She argued that some European countries, notably Germany, are planning similar administrative measures despite boasting much higher rates of immunization.

The daily number of officially confirmed coronavirus cases in Armenia has been relatively small since the beginning of June despite a lax enforcement of anti-epidemic rules imposed last year. It began slowly but steadily rising in July, however.

The Ministry of Health said on Thursday morning that 399 people have tested positive for the coronavirus in the past day, the largest single-day number of cases reported by it in the last few months.

Avanesian warned that the country could face a new wave of infections after the start of the new academic year on September 1.

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