It has been a little over a year since we’ve covered COVID news in Russia, and while today’s blog is about Russia’s vaccine Sputnik V, we focus on the country’s southern neighbor, Kazakhstan.
*All photos taken and used with permission from author (Akbota Yergaliyeva)
Since the end of February, Kazakhstan has been administering Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine (Спутник V). Along with 7 other post-soviet countries (not including Russia), my home country used Гам-КОВИД-Вак (Gam-KOVID-Vak) to join the global fight against the virus. Now, Kazakhstan is manufacturing its own vaccine QazVac (QazCovid-in) and just like in Russia, there are a few ways the vaccine is being administered in public. Kazakhstani citizens can get vaccinated for free in shopping malls (торго́вых дома́х) and (поликли́никах) public clinics. The difference with QazVac is that you have to wait for 45 days between the doses instead of Sputnik’s 21 days.
I got my first dose on April 9th and the second one on April 30th. Я записа́лась на приви́вку в поликли́нику (I made an appointment to get vaccinated at a clinic) and was scheduled for that same week. Everyone, whether it was their first or second dose, had to see a nurse (ме́дсестра́) prior to the shot (уко́л) to:
- Confirm ID Have their temperature taken Have their heart rate measured Fill out a short general questionnaire Sign that they were informed of possible side effects (побо́чные эффе́кты)
The nurse also explained how to access one’s vaccination passport (приви́вочный па́спорт) though the e-gov (Kazakhstan’s digital platform for services between all governmental agencies and the public). See the photo below.
The shot itself took less than a minute. Both were administered into my left shoulder (в ле́вое плечо́). I felt immediate muscle pain after the first vaccine shot but the second one was painless. Afterwards, I had to stay in a designated waiting room for 30 min with all the other vaccinated people so that the staff could ensure our well-being. We were given these badges that said:
Проведена́ вакцина́ция про́тив КВИ;
Пери́од медици́нского наблюде́ния в тече́ние 30 минут!”
“COVID vaccination received;
30-minute medical monitoring period”
I didn’t have any terrible side effects to Sputnik V except for a headache (головна́я боль) and some back pain (боли в спине) overnight, but those were expected since that’s how my body reacted when I actually had COVID last summer (along with total loss of my sense of smell for 2 weeks).
All in all, vaccination is being actively promoted in Kazakhstan. I saw the following memo posted at the entrance to my grandparents’ apartment building. It said:
В «Городско́й Поликли́нике №1» проводится вакцина́ция про́тив коронавирусной инфе́кции с 08:00 до 00:00 часо́в с понеде́льника по воскресе́нье. Вакцинируются все жела́ющие, незави́симо от прикрепле́ния.
City Hospital №1 is administering vaccinations against coronavirus between 8am to midnight, Monday through Sunday. All are welcome, regardless of hospital affiliation.
I received my vaccination passport in a digital format through ‘e-gov’ on the day of the second shot. It comes in three languages (Kazakh, Russian, English) in a PDF format. At this point it’s difficult to assess whether and how exactly it will be recognized by other countries when traveling, but Kazakhstan’s Ministry of Healthcare stated that its citizens can return back to Kazakhstan without a negative COVID test if they have been fully vaccinated. Before, you had to pass a PCR COVID test in the country of your departure prior to boarding the plane.
What has been your experience with Sputnik V vaccine if you’ve received one?