SOFIA, June 17 (Xinhua) -- Stella Kyriakides, European commissioner for health and food safety who visited Bulgaria on Thursday, urged the public there to get vaccinated against COVID-19. The vaccination rate in Bulgaria is among the lowest in the European Union (EU).
"Over 50 percent of the European adult population have already received the first vaccine dose. The number in Bulgaria is close to 15 percent," Kyriakides said at a press conference.
"The way to get out of this pandemic is to vaccinate, vaccinate, vaccinate. This is my strong message for today," she said.
The citizens need to trust the vaccines, said Kyriakides.
On one of her first missions to EU member states to assess and support their vaccination campaigns, Kyriakides met with Bulgaria's caretaker Health Minister Stoicho Katsarov to discuss ways to help accelerate the country's vaccination campaign.
In a press release issued on Thursday, the Health Ministry explained the low vaccination rate by the unwillingness of a large part of Bulgarian citizens to be vaccinated and by the recent decrease in the number of new COVID-19 infections.
Katsarov, who took office on May 12 this year, said his ministry was launching a belated information campaign on the benefits of vaccines.
"This is something that should have been done at the beginning of the year for it to be effective. We could have avoided mistrust in vaccines and the circulation of myths and false information," Katsarov said.
According to a nationwide survey conducted by the Mediana Polling Agency between June 10 and June 15 - the results of which were released on Wednesday -- only 29 percent of the adult Bulgarians had already been vaccinated or wanted to be vaccinated. Another 29 percent were hesitant, and 42 percent did not intend to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.