MOSCOW (AP) — The majority of medical workers, teachers and social workers in Moscow have been vaccinated against the coronavirus a month after authorities in the Russian capital mandated the shots for many of those employed in health care, education, retail, public transport and hospitality and services sector.
Deputy Mayor Anastasia Rakova said Wednesday that nearly 70% of medical workers, 66% of those working in Moscow education facilities and 76% of social workers have been vaccinated. Her statement came a day before the Thursday deadline authorities set for eligible companies and institutions a month ago to ensure that 60% of their staff receive at least one vaccine shot.
Russia has been facing a rapid surge of coronavirus infections in recent weeks, with the number of daily confirmed cases soaring from about 9,000 in early June to over 25,000 last week. For the first time in the pandemic, the daily death toll exceeded 700 last Tuesday and has remained at that level ever since. On Thursday, Russia’s state coronavirus task force reported 25,293 new contagions and record 791 deaths.
Russia’s vaccination rates, in the meantime, have lagged compared to other nations. As of Tuesday, 28.6 million Russians — or just 19.5% of the 146 million population — have received at least one shot of a vaccine.
In light of the surge and low vaccine uptake, authorities in nearly 30 Russian regions have made vaccinations mandatory for certain groups of people, like those employed in health care, education, retail, public transport, government offices and services sector.
Moscow and the outlying Moscow region were the first to announce the measure a month ago. Businesses and institutions were ordered to ensure that 60% of staff get at least one shot of a coronavirus vaccine by July 15 and are fully vaccinated by Aug. 15. Otherwise employers would have to suspend unvaccinated workers and face steep fines.