Bucharest (AP) — At Dracula’s castle in picturesque Transylvania, Romanian doctors are offering a jab in the arm rather than a stake through the heart.
A COVID-19 vaccination center has been set up on the periphery of Romania’s Bran Castle, which is purported to be the inspiration behind Dracula’s home in Bram Stoker’s 19th-century gothic novel “Dracula.”
Every weekend through May “vaccination marathons” will be held just outside the storied 14th-century hilltop castle, where no appointment is needed, in an attempt to encourage people to protect themselves against COVID-19.
“We wanted to show people a different way to get the (vaccine) needle,” Alexandru Priscu, the marketing manager at Bran Castle, told The Associated Press.
Those brave enough to get a Pfizer vaccine shot receive a “vaccination diploma,” which is aptly illustrated with a fanged medical worker brandishing a syringe.
“Besides the diploma, people benefit with free entry to the (castle’s) torture rooms, which have 52 medieval torture instruments,” Priscu noted.
Since the light-hearted campaign was launched over the weekend, when nearly 400 people were vaccinated, Priscu said he has received scores of requests from foreigners wishing to get vaccinated in the spooky setting. Bad news for them: only residents of Romania can officially receive a jab.
The campaign runs alongside a series of government initiatives as it pushes to speed up the inoculation campaign for the European Union nation of more than 19 million people. The government is hoping to vaccinate 5 million people by June 1 to herald in a “return to normality.”
On Saturday, all vaccination centers in the country became appointment-free after 2 p.m., and round-the-clock “vaccination marathon” events have been launched in several cities throughout Romania.
Since the pandemic started, Romania has recorded more than 1 million COVID-19 infections and 29,034 people have died.
Photo: In this Oct. 9, 2016, file picture men stand in the inner courtyard of Bran Castle Romanian authorities have set up a COVID-19 vaccination center in a medieval building in Bran, not far from the castle, as a means to encourage people to vaccinate and also to boost tourism which has decreased in the area as a result of the pandemic.