BRATISLAVA (Reuters) – Nearly 60 survivors received their COVID-19 vaccination on Holocaust Remembrance Day in Bratislava on Wednesday, completing the inoculation of the city’s entire survivor community.
The vaccination was held at the city’s Jewish Community Centre as Slovakia began inoculating people over 75 – an age group that includes those born before the end of World War II.
“Symbolically on this day, Holocaust survivors received as a reward something that I believe they were not expecting a week ago,” said Tomas Stern, head of Bratislava’s Jewish community.
Stern said there were 128 Holocaust survivors in Bratislava, and 330 in Slovakia in total.
“Every one of them has a human story that is amplified by the war experience, when they and their families were exposed to persecution but also isolation that we, when we are talking about isolation today, cannot imagine.”
Survivor Viera Fischerova, 77, said she was a year and a half old when her family were discovered in hiding – which she only heard about from family members because she was too young to remember.
“Everyone who survived had to be lucky and I was lucky at least three times,” she said.
Coronavirus was nothing by comparison but it was better not to risk it, she said.
“This (vaccination) is the last chance to win over COVID, it is necessary to give it a try and not reject everything,” she said. “It is always better than to get the COVID. Even when you observe all the rules, you never know if someone sneezes on you in the store.”
(Reporting by Radoslav Stoklasa; Writing by Jan Lopatka; Editing by Giles Elgood)