FILE - in this Saturday, Oct. 31, 2016 file picture, a child wears a vampire mask while walking in the court yard of Bran Castle in Bran, Romania. 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. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda, File)

FILE - in this Saturday, Oct. 31, 2016 file picture, a child wears a vampire mask while walking in the court yard of Bran Castle in Bran, Romania. 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. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda, File)

A different kind of jab: Dracula’s castle offering up free COVID-19 shots

Alexandru Priscu said he has received scores of requests to get vaccinated in the spooky setting

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 centre 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 centres 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.

___

Stephen McGrath, The Associated Press


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