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Mass vaccination centers deliver disappointing figures

A total of 1,735 people were vaccinated on Sunday, at six vaccination centers were up and running throughout the country, the Vaccination Project Bureau informed the LETA newswire.

The figure is the total for all six centers, not an average per center, and is about 1,000 fewer when compared to Saturday, or the first day these vaccination centers began their work. 

The total is well below the vaccination numbers achieved on some days before the large-scale centers opened, leading to a storm of criticism for Health Minister Daniels Pavļuts on social media over how such low numbers could be served and conflicting messages from official sources or thse seeking information about who is eligible for vaccination, where and how.

In response Pavļuts pointed out that the launch of large vaccination centers during the Easter holidays was intended as an experiment to test their technical readiness: "From a technical point of view, everything is in order - the centers are well prepared, working smoothly and able to vaccinate much more.

"Unfortunately, we encountered an unexpectedly low response to vaccination - due to holidays and concerns about the particular vaccine. Unused capacity remained, which is a new situation," Pavļuts said.

Though additional invitations to get vaccinated were sent to several vaccination groups, the lack of public transport services provided over the holiday weekend, particularly away from the capital, is likely to have reduced the ability of senior citizens and others to actually attend vaccination centers.

"There was a problem for one in three of the chronically ill, who still needed referrals via the e-health system from a family doctor or the attending doctor. We are very sorry! We will be able to correct this immediately after the holidays -- some centers will continue to work after Easter, invitations remain valid," Pavļuts said.

Commenting on the calls for a "free line" in which people wanting a vaccination shot simply queue up for one, Pavļuts stated: "We must not create uncontrolled gatherings, confusion and epidemiological risks, nor must we ignore the situation of priority groups towards people with a much lower risk of illness."

However, he did not entirely discount the possibility of introducing something similar on an experimental basis in coming days.

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