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Ukrainian region offers anonymous COVID-19 jabs for fake vaccination certificates holders

Healthcare worker treating a COVID-19 patient at the Zakarpattia Oblast Infectious Diseases Hospital. Uhhorod, October 2021. Screenshot: Youtube/Суспільне Закарпаття
Ukrainian region offers anonymous COVID-19 jabs for fake vaccination certificates holders
In a first for Ukraine since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the westernmost Zakarpattia Oblast has introduced anonymous vaccination to tackle both the deluge of fake vaccine certificates and the country’s high vaccine hesitancy rates.

This is a social project for two groups of people, Ukrainian media reports. First and foremost, the project targets those who had purchased fraudulent coronavirus vaccination certificates but now changed their minds and want to get their COVID shots. The second target group for anonymous vaccination is those who aren’t willing to disclose information on their COVID-19 vaccination status for religious or other reasons.

Currently, all residents of Zakarpattia are eligible to get the COVID-19 jab anonymously in an anonymous vaccination office a the medical center in the regional capital city of Uzhhorod.

It was local councilor Prof. Fedir Shandor, Head of the Department of Social Work of Uzhhorod National University, who advocated the introduction of this social project. A survey conducted in the region revealed that currently there are at least 4,000 holders of fake coronavirus vaccination certificates in Zakarpattia, he stated.

The issue of fake certificates is far from being a local problem in Zakarpattia: Ukraine’s State Border Guard Service found that more than 170,000 out of some 940,000 certifucates checked by the agency since 21 August were invalid for various reasons, possibly including a certain number of forged ones. Nevertheless, this figure doesn’t include valid certificates bought without actual vaccination.

“The number of the fraudulent certificates began to rise steeply after the introduction of compulsory coronavirus vaccination for all civil servants, as well as for those employed in education, medicine, and culture fields. I asked doctors and the Department of Health of the Zakarpattia Oblast State Administration to introduce anonymous vaccination so that people who made a mistake and bought a fraudulent vaccination certificate had the opportunity to redeem themselves and save their lives and health,” Fedir Shandor said at a press conference in the Uzhhorod Press Club.

Infectious disease doctor Viktor Petrov reported that the anonymous vaccination office is going to operate around the clock in the Uzhhorod-based “Prevention Hospital” Medical Center.

“Getting the jab anonymously is up to any resident of Zakarpattia who for some reason — religious or family-related — doesn’t want their vaccination data to end up in the database. We also give the opportunity to anyone who had purchased a forged vaccination certificate or has a valid certificate, but hadn’t actually been vaccinated, to come and get vaccinated anonymously. This can be done under any pseudonym chosen by such a person indicates during their visit to the medical center,” Viktor Petrov said.

According to the doctor, all types of vaccines currently used in Ukraine are available for anonymous patients.

“We will keep track of the number of people who would be vaccinated anonymously, and we will ask the patients to sign a consent for vaccination before the procedure, although also anonymously, under a pseudonym. We have to use these pseudonyms to enable such a person to get a second shot of the vaccine,” Viktor Petrov added.

As Zakarpattia police investigate 69 cases of forging COVID certificates, the doctor also assured that the medical workers who are going to carry out the anonymous vaccination campaign will avoid unnecessary questions, won’t condemn or put the people to shame for their previous mistakes and beliefs.

“We want to give these people a chance to save their lives and health, and the lives and health of their loved ones, to protect themselves,” Viktor Petrov stressed.

Early November saw a surge in COVID mortality in Ukraine and as of 17 November, Ukraine was the third among the world’s nations by the total number of registered new deaths caused by COVID-19, according to Worldometer.

Meanwhile, an early November poll by the Sociological Group Rating showed that 36% of Ukrainians are “not ready to get vaccinated against COVID-19” with this sentiment more popular among younger respondents, 46% said they had already been vaccinated, and other 16% were ready for the jab. In September, the percentage of those who didn’t plan to get vaccinated was at 56%.

The vaccine hesitancy sentiment even made the country’s leadership offer a cash incentive as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy announced on 15 November that those who would get fully vaccinated against COVID-19 are going to receive UAH 1,000 (around $37).

Interactive COVID-19: Ukraine and world

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