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Rum, gin or... COVID shot? Sofia bar bids to boost Bulgaria's low vaccination rate

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By Yuliyan Stoyanov
Bulgarians can get vaccinated at one of the bars in the capital Sofia.
Bulgarians can get vaccinated at one of the bars in the capital Sofia.   -   Copyright  Euronews   -  

Bulgarians can now get vaccinated while having a drink in a cozy and welcoming bar turned into a COVID-19 vaccination centre ahead of the festive gatherings in the capital Sofia.

The move launched by the hospitality industry hopes to keep everyone safe during Christmas celebrations this weekend, as the Balkan country still has one of the lowest vaccination rates and the highest death rates in the world.

People willing to get the vaccine -- or just more information about COVID-19 -- can do so in the non-hospital environment while enjoying discounted drinks at the small business in the Bulgarian capital.

Preslava Karadzhova is one of the many people who chose to get vaccinated here to keep her family and friends safe for the holiday season.

"I think it’s a great idea. It’s a lot more comfortable, a lot more pleasant. The doctors and nurses are lovely. So yeah, I would definitely recommend it," she told Euronews.

The event organiser, Ivan Landzhev, says this is a small "Christmas gift" to medical institutions, as the initiative hopes to help hospitals and vaccination centres in their not-so-successful vaccination campaign.

"Bulgaria is in desperate need of a constructive vaccination campaign. That's what we are trying to do here. We are trying to help them out because so far there hasn't been a fully organized, united vaccination campaign coming from the state institutions," he explained.

"I think I speak for all of us, it's the first time ever that all of the world is facing the same problem. We all have to deal with the same situation," Landzhev said.

The bar is the only place in Bulgaria where people do not need a health certificate to get in, but where they will leave with one after getting the vaccine.

"It's very fun because sometimes people come for a consultation, too. They can have fun while getting vaccinated and they are not just on a conveyor belt and just strung along," Dr Svilen Donev, a member of the medical staff administrating the vaccine, revealed.

"It's better for us because we have more fun vaccinating, and for them because they are happier being vaccinated," Donev said.

Only 27,3 per cent of Bulgarians are fully vaccinated due to the strong mistrust in the COVID-19 vaccines.