Ukrainians rush to get jabs as anti-virus measures imposed

Kiev (AFP) – Ukrainians were rushing to get vaccinated against the coronavirus Wednesday after Kiev rolled out new anti-Covid measures to counter a surge in infections.

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The country reported a record number of inoculations since it began offering jabs in February with more than 291,000 people fully vaccinated over the past 24 hours.

Authorities in the country of around 41 million people initially struggled to source vaccine doses and have since fought to convince vaccine-sceptic Ukrainians to get inoculated.

But new restrictions requiring vaccinations have recently seen people flock to vaccine centres with more than 1.6 million jabs administered this week compared to 906,000 in the previous seven days.

"I'd like us to finally overcome this coronavirus threat," Yana Tatarchuk, 35, told AFP as she waited in line with dozens of people at a vaccination centre in the capital Kiev.

People queueing to get jabbed at a temporary vaccination centre in a Kiev shopping mall on Wednesday
People queueing to get jabbed at a temporary vaccination centre in a Kiev shopping mall on Wednesday Sergei SUPINSKY AFP

Kiev mayor and former boxing champion Vitali Klitschko urged residents to "Get vaccinated!"

"This is the only way to prevent a rapid spread of the virus... and to save people's lives," he wrote on the Telegram messaging app.

Staff and visitors at public venues including cinemas and gyms are required to be vaccinated in several badly-hit regions across the country with the measures expanding to seven more regions on Saturday.

Lyudmyla, a 50-year-old gym manager, said her mother had held out against getting vaccinated for six months until rules came in mandating vaccine certificates or PRC tests for travel on buses, trains and airplanes.

"She was afraid she wouldn't be able to go to her dacha," Lyudmyla said, gesturing to her mother waiting in line to get the jab.

Ukraine on Tuesday reported a record 734 Covid-19 deaths in the ex-Soviet nation, which has an under-resourced public health service.

Despite three vaccines being available in Ukraine -- AstraZeneca, Pfizer and the Chinese-made CoronaVac -- only 18 percent of the country is fully vaccinated.

Ukraine has recorded more than 2.8 million coronavirus cases and 65,000 deaths since the start of the pandemic.