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Iranians facing a shortage of Covid-19 vaccines at home are traveling to neighboring Armenia as tourists in increasing numbers to be vaccinated there for free, according to data from the Armenian tourism board.
Armenia approved three vaccines against Covid-19 – Russia’s Sputnik V, China’s CoronaVac, and AstraZeneca’s vaccine and initially offered them all free to foreign visitors.
The Armenian Tourism Committee said more than 8,500 Iranian citizens visited in June, up from 5,000 a month earlier.
“We had no special plan to develop vaccine tourism, it happened by accident,” said Alfred Kocharyan, deputy director of the Armenian Tourism Committee, adding that people were also coming from India to get free vaccines.
“But the demand for vaccines has created an opportunity for our travel agencies which I encourage them to seize. “
Armenian TV last week reported long queues of Iranians at mobile vaccination units in Yerevan, the capital of Armenia, with Iranian tourists saying they had spent several nights on the streets waiting their turn to get vaccinated.
“There were too many people there, there were too many Iranians, and we still don’t know if we can get the vaccine or not,” said Shirin Darvish, an Iranian tourist who has been waiting to be vaccinated for. ten days.
The accumulation of queues overnight has prompted authorities to tighten the rules on vaccines.
As of July 15, foreigners can only be vaccinated in Armenia with the AstraZeneca vaccine and must spend 10 days in the country before becoming eligible.
Armenia had administered at least 260,813 doses of Covid vaccines as of July 10, according to Armenian authorities.
Iran, with a population of 83 million, had recorded 87,161 deaths from the coronavirus as of July 19, the highest toll in the Middle East.
According to the Islamic Republic News Agency, around 2.7% of the Iranian population have received both doses of a coronavirus vaccine.

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