Bulgarian lawmakers this week officially approved the country’s new center-led government, with fighting the pandemic a priority for new Prime Minister Kiril Petkov.
The death toll in Bulgaria from the pandemic is around 27,000, government figures show.
Incorrect vaccination information and distrust of government institutions help keep vaccination rates low.
Demonstrators gather weekly in the Bulgarian capital of Sofia to demonstrate against vaccines and public health regulations.
Sabila Marinova, the head of the intensive care unit at a hospital in the northern Bulgarian city of Veliko Tarnovo, said none of his COVID-19 patients had been vaccinated.
“We are very exhausted,” she said. “It seems that this horror has no end.”
And the country’s medical staff were at risk when they were given gunshots.
In September, a group of anti-vaccination agents attacked a medical team at a mobile vaccination station in the Bulgarian port city of Varna.
Health Minister Stoycho Katsarov condemned the attack, saying: “We will not allow our medics to be insulted, publicly molested and humiliated” for trying to save lives.
Religion can also play a role in Bulgaria’s low vaccination rate.
The country’s Orthodox Church has refused to endorse mass vaccination and has instead spread messages of the holiness of the body of Christ.
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The pandemic crisis is just a pressing issue for Bulgaria’s new government, along with a population decline, endemic corruption and rising cost of living.