06/19/2021, 08.55
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Moscow makes Covid vaccination obligatory

by Vladimir Rozanskij

Four regions, including that of the capital, are the first to have adopted the measure. Population suspicious of vaccine. Only vaccinated allowed access to schools and universities: the remainder will have to follow lessons online. The Orthodox Church reticent on immunization campaign.

Moscow (AsiaNews) - Four Russian regions are the first to have decided on the obligation of vaccination for different categories of citizens, especially public workers. The first to decree the emergency measure was the capital, on June 16, when mayor Sergej Sobjanin extended the measure to about 60% of the operators of the municipality and to many workers employed in services, commerce, transport and the sector banking. The first dose should be administered by 15 July; the second by 15 August.

Given the surge in coronavirus cases in Russia in recent weeks, the decision was also supported by the central government, according to a statement released on June 17 by Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov. In the last 24 hours alone, the health authorities have registered over 17,000 new cases of contagion, with 453 deaths, 78 of which in Moscow alone. Several positive cases were also detected after vaccination.

Despite the pressing campaign of the Russian authorities, and the availability of the Sputnik vaccine since the end of 2020, mass immunization is slow. Most of the population is suspicious about the use of the drug. Their concern is also fueled by the upcoming election campaign. Yesterday President Vladimir Putin finally set the date for September 19.

Schools and universities are also moving towards very strict positions regarding the obligation of vaccination. The most prestigious cultural institutions, such as the Higher School of Economics and the Moscow Academy of Sciences, plan to only allow vaccinated students and teachers to attend lessons. Those who prove to have antibodies after coronavirus infection are also admitted. These measures were supported by the Council of Rectors of the universities of Moscow and the province of the capital.

All live events will be abolished, such as university open days, party evenings for diplomas and degrees, summer schools and conferences. All events must take place online, as was the case during the hardest phases of social isolation of the past year.

From September 1, activities will resume in schools in hybrid mode, admitting only the vaccinated, who will be the only ones to be able to use all school and university services, while the others will have to be satisfied with online activities.

The school authorities believe that technological updating, thanks to the pandemic year, is now sufficient to guarantee the right to education for everyone, vaccinated or not. In any case, schools will have to make data on the infected and on those who will be assigned to the isolation regime available. The Moscow Ministry of Health will organize special medical staff for regular checks in the capital's schools, and to offer free vaccination services, with all types of vaccines available.

Foreigners and visitors will not be able to enter schools and universities; rectors and directors will have to take charge of continuous information and recommendations on mass vaccination. The Russians continue to be very insensitive to the issue. The Orthodox Church also retains rather negative positions regarding the use of vaccines, despite the continuous deaths of members of the clergy, even at high levels of the ecclesiastical hierarchy.

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