Russia has vaccinated 11.9 million people with a first dose of one of its three homemade coronavirus vaccines, Deputy Prime Minister Tatiana Golikova said Monday.
That represents around 10% of Russia’s adult population and comes as the government has stepped up efforts to boost its slow-going nationwide vaccination campaign, which was rolled out early December.
President Vladimir Putin made his most forceful public call for Russians to have the jab during his state-of-the-nation address last week.
In Moscow, mayor Sergey Sobyanin has promised to give over-60s who have been vaccinated a gift card worth 1,000 rubles ($13) to spend at cafes, shops and pharmacies in the capital. The funds were raised through contributions from businesses, as Sobyanin urged companies to help incentivize the vaccination campaign if they wanted to avoid another lockdown.
A total of 7.5 million Russians — 6.5% of the country’s adults — have received both doses of a vaccine, Golikova added. Russia does not publish daily statistics on the number of jabs it has administered.
Putin said Russia is aiming to achieve herd immunity by autumn 2021. But at the current pace of vaccinations, the country is only on course to have fully vaccinated 70% of its population by August 2022.
Despite being the first country in the world to approve a coronavirus vaccine last August, Russia’s nationwide jab campaign has been slow, beset by a highly skeptical public. The country has also removed almost all coronavirus restrictions, with bars, cafes and night clubs having remained largely open for business since last summer, and only some restrictions on mass gatherings still in place.
Russia has reported the world’s fifth highest tally of coronavirus cases since the start of the pandemic.