Ramilya Shigalturina had a warning for anybody still rejecting vaccines as she stood in the morgue courtyard clutching the remains of her grandmother who died of COVID-19.
“I’m imploring all Russians to be vaccinated, since it’s very horrible and deadly,” a resident of Nizhny Novgorod, Russia’s fifth-largest city, said.
“My 83-year-old grandma died immediately soon after contracting it,” Shigalturina added. She had not been immunized.”
Last year, when Russia became the first country to launch Sputnik V, a coronavirus vaccine, it was lauded as a source of national pride and proof of its scientific prowess. However, just roughly a third of the country’s 146 million people have been completely immunized since the free vaccination campaign began in December 2020.
The poor vaccination uptake is becoming increasingly concerning as Russia experiences a dramatic increase in cases, with infections and fatalities breaking records virtually every day this month. The national coronavirus task force reported 1,036 fatalities and nearly 36,000 new illnesses in the previous 24 hours on Thursday.
“I don’t know what’s going on,” President Vladimir Putin remarked, a rare acknowledgment of perplexity from the tough leader. “We have a vaccination that is both dependable and effective.” The vaccination significantly lowers the chances of sickness, serious complications, and death.”
Dr. Natalia Soloshenko is pummeled by the onslaught at Nizhny Novgorod’s Infectious Hospital No. 23, where very ill patients are crammed into wards with limited room between their beds.
“I can tell you that just one or two of every 50 hospitalized are vaccinated,” the hospital’s top doctor told The Associated Press. “The whole ICU is filled with critically ill patients, all of whom are unvaccinated.”
“To be honest, we’re no longer offended; we simply feel bad for these folks,” she explained.
Nina Pugacheva is still in the hospital, but she is one of the fortunate ones who is making a full recovery.
She said, “Tell everyone to get vaccinated.”
According to Soloshenko, widespread disinformation appears to be fueling vaccination apprehension.
“It’s a really delicate subject, and it’s a burning problem for all health-care personnel,” she says. We read what’s on social media and find the most unfavorable information about immunization coming from our country’s inhabitants,” she explained.
Because of a long-standing skepticism of authorities dating back to the Soviet period, many Russians are wary of vaccinations in general. There was significant worry that Sputnik V might be licensed for usage before thorough clinical studies were completed.
Authorities’ contradictory messages have also been criticized by some opponents. While praising Sputnik V and three other domestic vaccinations, state-controlled media frequently chastised Western-made vaccines, a message that many saw as fueling vaccine skepticism.
The immunization rate in Nizhny Novgorod, roughly 400 kilometers east of Moscow, is 44 percent higher than the national norm, yet the region also has a high mortality rate. The coronavirus task force reported 40 additional deaths in the previous day, which is nearly double the fatality rate in Moscow.
As the number of deaths increased, regional governor Gleb Nikitin promised further steps to stop the spread of the diseases, but these have yet to be disclosed.
Putin instructed Russians to take off work from October 30 to November 7, which coincides with a four-day national vacation.
Following months of inactivity, Moscow and St. Petersburg, Russia’s two most populated cities and the country’s primary political, commercial, and cultural hubs, have announced additional limitations.
From October 28 to November 7, gyms, theaters, entertainment venues, and most retailers in Moscow will be closed, while restaurants will only be available for takeout or delivery.
The city of St. Petersburg said on Monday that digital codes for verifying vaccination will be required to access conferences and sporting events starting Nov. 1. These codes will be required at cinemas, theaters, museums, and gyms beginning Nov. 15, and at restaurants, cafés, and certain retailers beginning Dec. 1.
A similar code system was tried in Moscow last summer, but it was abandoned after a few weeks due to restaurant owners’ concerns about decreased income.