Latvia's President and Prime Minister roll up their sleeves for vaccination

Take note – story published 2 years ago

Latvian President Egils Levits and Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš rolled up their sleeves Thursday, February 11 to receive their first doses of Covid-19 vaccine.

Unusually, this routine medical procedure was broadcast on the LTV news department's Facebook page, and you can watch it above if you are so inclined.

The procedure, beamed live from the Pauls Stradiņš Clinical University Hospital, unfolded precisely as you might imagine. Neither man passed out at the sight of a needle and neither noted any immediate adverse reaction.

Several media representatives and chancellery officials were in attendance, too, recording the event for posterity.

The head of state was first up to bat. After removing his jacket behind a screen which declared "Don't come [to be vaccinated] without an appointment!", he sat upon a carefully-placed plastic chair. He had selected his right arm to receive the needle and wore white shirt and pale blue tie with a tie clip to stop it flapping around.

The medic assigned to take care of the upper arm of the head of state donned blue surgical gloves as the sound of camera shutters clicking continued intermittently.

President Levits sat patiently, in more ways than one.

At last the necessary preparations were complete. With the requisite dosage transferred from vial to syringe - a stage of the procedure which caused a discernible increase in camera clicking - all was set fair for the administering of the presidential vaccine through the epidermis and into underlying muscular tissue, as specificed by the manufacturer, specifically, AstraZeneca.

Come the moment of truth, not so much as a flicker of a flinch was detectable from the presidential person and if there was any sort of grimace it was hidden by the facemask which is compulsory upon such occasions, a fact also attested to on the previously-mentioned screen. 

The medic was even kind enough to roll down the president's sleeve for him when all was done.

"I must say I am a rational person who believes in science and the experts of the World Health Organization, the European Medicines Agency and hundreds of other experts," said Levits, who reassured the public that the vaccine was safe.

"I feel really good," he said, adding that he hoped showing he had received the vaccine would help to reassure those parts of society who still harbored doubts about its safety or necessity.

"I invite everyone to get vaccinated, so we can return more quickly to the normal rhythm of life," Levits said.

Minutes later the process was repeated for Prime Minister Krisjānis Kariņš, though the angle of the plastic chair upon which he perched was altered slightly to provide variety to the photographers still at their stations. 

The most noteworthy aspect of this already-familiar routine was that Kariņš stripped right down to a white vest under his shirt and tie, a sensible extra layer of clothing with temperatures currently well below freezing, though one which slightly slowed the rate at which he was able to get dressed again afterwards.

Like President Levits, Kariņš expressed hope that seeing the jabs administered would allay the doubts of some viewers, describing vaccination as a small measure that would "protect not only ourselves but society as a whole". He encouraged the public to register for vaccination online.

Asked if it was right that some government officials and ex-Presidents were getting some of the first vaccines when not all medical staff had yet received their shots, Kariņš said the decision had been taken after considerable discussion by the cabinet and that he was trying to lead by example and publicise the fact that vaccination is not painful or dangerous. 

However, the cabinet does not appear to be unanimous in its thinking on this, with ministers belonging to the New Conservative Party passing on receiving their shots until teachers have received theirs, according to Transport Minister Tālis Linkaits.  


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