Russia to relaunch troubled vaccination ad campaign - report

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MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia plans to relaunch its troubled vaccination advertising and public information campaign amid surging COVID-19 infection and death rates, the daily Kommersant newspaper reported on Thursday.

The Kremlin has lamented the slow pace of vaccinations across the world's largest country and said that the campaign to persuade people to protect themselves with Russia's flagship Sputnik V vaccine or an alternative vaccine has not been effective enough.

As of Oct. 22, official data showed that 49.1 million Russians were fully vaccinated. The total population, excluding annexed Crimea, is officially estimated at around 144 million.

Russia on Thursday reported 1,159 COVID-19 deaths in the past 24 hours, an all-time high, and for the first time the number of daily infections broke through the 40,000 barrier.

Kommersant, citing two unnamed sources close to the presidential administration, said the Kremlin was working on organising a new campaign that would pay closer attention to Russia's more than 80 regions and strike a less aggressive and negative tone than previously.

The existing campaign has often highlighted the risk of death for Russians who decline to get vaccinated rather than linking vaccination to the freedom to be exempt from lockdown-style restrictions, the sources were cited as saying.

The Russian capital brought in its strictest lockdown measures since June 2020 on Thursday as hospitals confront a rising wave of coronavirus cases.

Kommersant said volunteers and experts would take part in the new initiative and that experts had urged the authorities to set up a special body to conduct the campaign.

(Reporting by Andrew Osborn; Editing by Tom Balmforth)

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