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Bulgaria launches vaccine lottery amid anti-vaxxer turmoil

Bulgaria launches vaccine lottery amid anti-vaxxer turmoil

On Sunday, while Minister Stela Baltova was presenting the new incentive, a group of protesters harassed a mobile vaccination centre in Varna until it closed

Vaccine tensions in Bulgaria are rising amid what looks to be the fourth wave of the virus. Yesterday, a group of anti-vaxxers attacked a mobile vaccination centre in Varna, demanding to know if the medical staff had vaccination permits. Meanwhile, in an interview on Nova TV, the interim Minister of Tourism Stela Baltova revealed a healthcare plan to boost vaccinations by creating a vaccine lottery.

Details on the lottery are scarce, but what Minister Baltova did say was that vaccinated people could participate in a random draw lottery to win tablets or watches. She added that the Ministry of Health will announce more details on the matter in the coming days.

Vaccination turmoil

While Stela Baltova tried to explain the rationale behind the initiative, she remained somewhat reserved about its potential outcome. Acceding to her, if a person does not understand that vaccination and following social distancing measures is the only way to preserve the health of friends, colleagues and neighbours, no lottery would be convincing enough.

In the meantime, the Minister of Health, Stoycho Katsarov condemned the anti-vaxxer incident in Varna. He stood firmly behind the medical staff, saying that authorities will not allow anyone to harass them while they are saving human lives. He restated that the vaccine is the only effective measure against complications or death related to COVID-19 and that vaccination is not mandatory.

He continued by pointing out that while anti-vaxxers are attacking medical staff, currently, there are 5000 people in hospitals with Covid-infections, with 390 fighting for their lives in intensive care. Katsarov added that 95% of hospitalised cases are of unvaccinated people.

While the protesters were able to force the mobile vaccination centre to close its operation, for the time being, the police have launched a formal investigation to determine any wrongdoing. According to Minister Katsarov, the vaccination centre has all its documents and permits provided by the regional health authorities and the city.

The country with the lowest vaccination rate in the EU

Bulgaria has the lowest vaccination rate in the European Union, currently sitting at around 20% with strong opposition to the inocculation. Also on Sunday, dozens of people took to the streets in the capital of Sofia, claiming that no one should be obligated by the institutions to take the vaccine in any form.

Some of the points made by protesters included the idea that restrictions for the unvaccinated are discriminatory acts and that there will soon be a real social division between the vaccinated and those who remain unvaccinated.

It is important to point out that vaccination in Bulgaria is free and non-compulsory. At the same time, as the fourth wave of infections is rising, the government has tried to put new measures into effect to ultimately blunt the damage of the outbreak.

Some of the new measures, for example, state that restaurants can function at 100% capacity only if 100% of the staff and guests are vaccinated.

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