Thursday

17th Jun 2021

Romania's Dracula Castle welcomes vaccine-seekers

  • Romanian health promotion poster, urging people to get vaccinated at the pop-up centre in Dracula's castle

A jab-in-the-arm rather than a bite-to-the-neck is what visitors get if they choose to vaccinate in one of Romania's most famous tourist attractions.

Bran Castle, in central Romania, has been infamously associated with the vampire's lair in Bram Stoker's 19th-century novel Dracula. The medieval castle, with a history that goes beyond Stoker's mythical connotation, might now help in the fight against this 21st century pandemic.

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  • Bran Castle - Dracula's Castle in Transylvania (Photo: Bran Castle)

Romanian authorities hope that this 13th century landmark will boost both tourism, and the country's vaccination campaign.

Just as tourist arrivals have fallen during the pandemic in Romania, so are the numbers of those citizens eager to get the Covid-19 vaccine.

A recent survey showed that Romania has one of the lowest confidence levels in vaccines amongst EU's eastern members.

In addition to being welcomed by doctors with 'fang stickers' on their scrubs, people choosing to get the Covid-19 shot at Dracula's Castle are also offered a free entry to the castle's exhibition of medieval instruments of torture.

Anyone can take the Covid-19 shot here at weekends, without needing an appointment. The vaccination marathon at Bran Castle has taken place throughout May, with a possible extension through June.

However it remains uncertain whether that will help achieve the ambitious goal set by Romanian officials to have 10 million people vaccinated by September.

With vaccination numbers stalling, centres have been set up across the country and vaccination marathons are taking place in several cities as the government tries to encourage more citizens to take the jab.

After a good start to the vaccination campaign earlier this year, Romania ranks now amongst the last countries in the EU in both in the number of people who got the first dose, as well as in the number of fully vaccinated individuals. Only Latvia and Bulgaria are progressing worse in the immunisation campaign.

Valeriu Gheorghita, head of Romania's Covid-19 vaccination program, said that those who wanted to get vaccinated already had done so, and the campaign is now targeting the segment of the population that is more sceptical, hesitant or simply refusing to get the jab.

Hopefully, visitors choosing to spend the weekend at Dracula's castle will also take the option to get vaccinated.

Other countries in Europe have also set up vaccination centres in the most unlikely of places.

Boats, cinemas, cathedrals

People living on the small islands near Venice were able to get inoculated aboard an iconic Venetian vaporetto. This targets mostly people who find it difficult to travel around, particularly those over 80 were able to get inoculated on the famous Venetian waterway system.

Cinemas in UK have proved useful spaces for local residents to get vaccinated, as have some of the medieval cathedrals around London.

France's vaccination campaign also turned creative in order to get more people inoculated. With the help of the so-called 'Vaccibus', a bus turned vaccination centre, residents in rural areas can get the jab without having to travel.

Author bio

Cristian Gherasim is a freelance journalist contributing to EUobserver, Euronews, EU Reporter, Katoikos, Von Mises Institute, and bne IntelliNews, with a particular focus on European and regional affairs.

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