Written by Staff Writer
A Russian health minister has ordered school children aged 60 and over to stay home from classes for up to four months as the new year’s flu surge unfolds.
Immunization levels are so low in parts of the country that just one in every 20 vaccine doses is being used, Minister of Health Vladimir Drozdov was quoted as saying by TASS news agency
Last week, Russia suspended the use of a “boutique” formulation of one flu vaccine because its presence in the national supply of nearly 20 million doses was spotted by laboratory tests.
The combination vaccine — Covid-19 — is composed of three components injected together. Divers have stopped shipments of it, health authorities said in a statement on August 3.
Drozdov said the state is considering banning all children aged under 18 from school and from day-care centers during the current outbreak of illness and promised that the affected groups would be compensated for the disruption.
However, in the worst affected regions in the Urals and the central region of Belgorod, including the cities of Nizhny Novgorod and Minsk, schools are still open, as they are funded through local budgets, according to TASS.
5,000 hospital beds
Medical experts say demand for hospital beds has skyrocketed. In the Urals region alone there have been 1,000 hospital admissions per day since the outbreak began, health ministry sources told TASS.
Authorities believe the vaccine crisis in Russia is the result of the waning effectiveness of existing vaccines, according to TASS.
“All the … vaccine activities which occurred on average per year through 2016 will not be able to fulfill their obligations … This results in acute shortage of doses of vaccines which are necessary for schools and kindergartens in the first place,” Drozdov said.
He added that the lack of vaccine “saddens” him because the country had a high level of infectious disease prevention and control but it failed to maintain vigilance in this area.
Schools throughout the country are reporting that parents have become discouraged with sending their children to school and are looking for alternative schools, according to media reports.
Covid-19 was introduced in 2006 and is a recombinant type of the very popular Lymphoseek.
CNN has reached out to the Russian National Institute of Infectious Diseases and Russian Institute of Medical and Biological Problems, but received no response at the time of publication.