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August 14, 2022



MEP Peter Pollák, a Romani community member from Slovakia, posts footage of his vaccination against COVID-19 to combat conspiracy theories influencing the community

30.12.2020 16:33
Romani community member and MEP Peter Pollák was vaccinated against COVID-19 in Slovakia on 29 December 2020. (PHOTO:  Facebook page of Peter Pollák)
Romani community member and MEP Peter Pollák was vaccinated against COVID-19 in Slovakia on 29 December 2020. (PHOTO: Facebook page of Peter Pollák)

Peter Pollák (OĽaNO), a current MEP and former Slovak Government Plenipotentiary for Romani Communities, was vaccinated against COVID-19 on Tuesday at the Louis Pasteur University Hospital in Košice. He told the TASR wire service that he wants to convince the Romani community in Slovakia that undergoing vaccination is the only way the world will eventually defeat the novel coronavirus. 

The MEP said he had accepted the offer to be one of the first to undergo vaccination after long consultations. "I  have decided to convince the large Romani community who are among the endangered groups in Slovakia to take this vaccination seriously because it is actually of benefit to us all," the MEP said, adding that he wants to raise awareness of the issue.

"Even though vaccination will be voluntary, I want to encourage you all not to fear it. Maybe you are from a high-risk group - you travel abroad, you have loved ones living with you who are elderly or already ill... You've seen what this virus can do. The vaccine is our only ticket to freedom, to returning to normal life," the MEP posted to Facebook. 

"I'll do my best to influence the opinions of those who are believing the hoaxes and the lies today that have nothing to do with the truth," he told TASR. Just as in the Czech Republic, many Romani people in Slovakia are being influenced by fake news and by the different conspiracy theories associated with vaccination, and for that reason news server is also regularly refuting the most frequent disinformation about COVID-19. 

Pollák said that he anticipates the Office of the Slovak Government Plenipotentiary for Romani Communities will soon launch an awareness-raising campaign aimed exactly at the members of vulnerable groups living in Romani communities, adding that current Plenipotentiary Andrea Bučková will also be vaccinated as soon as possible. As for other MEPs, he assumes they will all get the vaccine before long.

"If not here in Slovakia, then they will be vaccinated in Brussels," the MEP said. In mid-December, Slovak MEPs from all political factions confirmed to TASR that they support across-the-board EU and national-level campaigns promoting vaccination and that most of them will be vaccinated at the first available opportunity.     

Vaccinations against COVID-19 in Slovakia began on Saturday (26 December) evening at the Nitra Teaching Hospital. In the Czech Republic they began on 27 December and the first to receive the vaccine was Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš. 

The first people to be vaccinated in both countries are scheduled to be health care workers, the employees of residential social services, and staffers of critical infrastructure. The vaccine will be available to the broader public apparently around Easter 2021.

ryz, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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