Putin receives second dose of COVID-19 vaccine

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President Vladimir Putin said Wednesday he had received the second dose of a vaccine against the coronavirus and encouraged Russians to follow his example.

“I want to inform you that right now, before entering this room, I also received the second vaccination,” he said during a televised meeting.

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“I assume that you, taking care of yourself and your loved ones, will do the same and follow my example,” he added.

The 68-year-old received his first dose on March 23 in private, declining to say which of Russia’s three vaccines -- Sputnik V, EpiVacCorona or CoviVac -- he had been administered.

In late March he called on Russians to get inoculated against the coronavirus, saying the country would be able to end all measures to limit the spread of the virus when around 70 percent of adults had been vaccinated.

He predicted that would happen by the end of the summer.

At the time he said that some 6.3 million of the country’s 144 million people had received a first dose of a vaccine.

Despite beginning its vaccination campaign in early December ahead of most countries, Russia has struggled to inoculate its citizens.

Many Russians are skeptical of the vaccine, with a recent opinion poll showing fewer than a third are willing to get inoculated.

Although Russia has been among the hardest hit by Covid-19, it has lifted nearly all of its pandemic restrictions, with health officials saying the worst of the country’s outbreak passed over the winter.

But infections in Moscow, the epicenter of Russia’s outbreak, have begun climbing again recently, and authorities on Monday suspended most flights with Turkey citing rising cases there.

As of Wednesday, health officials had reported more than 4.6 million infections and 104,000 fatalities from the virus.

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