Physician: municipal leaders in Latgale made a mistake by asking residents to wait and promising Russian vaccine

Municipal leaders in Latgale made a mistake when they asked residents to wait out Covid-19 vaccination and promised them a vaccine from Russia, said narcologist and opposition deputy of Rezekne Council Jāzeps Korsaks in a discussion «Is Latgale prepared to exit the lockdown together with the rest of Latvia?».
He believes there are many factors responsible for low vaccination coverage and high Covid-19 infection rates in Latgale. Mistakes were made by both local and national politicians.
«There have been big and small mistakes made by local and government politicians. Local politicians made a mistake by telling residents to wait for a vaccine from Russia,» said Korsaks.
According to him, some even «gathered political points» by inviting residents to not vaccinate even though they themselves had already received their jab.
Korsaks believes people can be convinced to vaccinate if approached individually. He has good experience promoting vaccination in large groups of people. He adds that once 30 out of 300 employees of Rezekne meat processing plant had agreed to vaccinate. When approached a second time, the number of people willing to vaccinate was over 130. They had spoken with their colleagues, urged them to vaccinate as well.
Vice-rector of Daugavpils University Arvīds Barševskis said during the discussion that low vaccination coverage can be explained with low trust in politicians. He also believes residents should be approached in their native language. «Yes, I an a proponent of use of state language, but we should speak with residents in the language they can be approached more easily,» comments Barševskis.
He said he has gone through Covid-19 infection and has since vaccinated. He also said his state was much worse during Covid-19 infection period than it was after his second Spikevax (prev. Moderna Covid-19 vaccine) jab. This is why he urges residents to vaccinate. «No one will chip you. I go through metal screening devices all the time, and everything is fine,» said Barševskis.
Latvian Red Cross Daugavpils Committee member Marina Pučka reported at the discussion that volunteers have come to help out Daugavpils Regional Hospital with Covid-19 patients. This includes youngsters and retired specialists.
This week University of Latvia professor Uga Dumpis said in an interview to Latvijas Radio that lifting epidemiological restrictions would affect Latgale the most, which has one of the lowest vaccination index in Latvia.
Dumpils said Latvia should be careful with rapid lifting of Covid-19 restrictions. «I’m not saying we shouldn’t lift restrictions. We have to look at which restrictions we can afford to lift and which we cannot,» said the infectologist.
He did stress, however, that the situation may turn out the most unfortunate in Latgale, where vaccination coverage remains critically low. «I am afraid to imagine what could happen in Latgale if we lifted restrictions,» adds the expert, proposing authorities to pay more attention to Latgale and consider providing more support to local hospitals, because it is potentially the region impacted by the epidemic the most.