Sheep flock forms syringe Covid-19 vaccine
Hundreds of sheep recruited to encourage vaccination in Germany
Hanspeter Etzold in northern Germany is using a flock of friendly sheep to try and spread the COVID-19 vaccine.
A German campaigner is hoping the emotional appeal of 700 sheep forming the shape of a giant syringe will reach the hearts and minds of people hesitating to take a COVID-19 injection.
The animals were arranged into the shape of a roughly 330-foot syringe in a field at Schneverdingen, south of Hamburg.
Tasty bits of bread did the trick for 700 sheep and goats to join Germany’s drive aimed at encouraging more people to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
Shepherd Wiebke Schmidt-Kochan spent several days practicing with her animals, news agency dpa reported. But she said in the end, it wasn’t difficult to work things out — she laid out pieces of bread in the shape of the syringe, which the sheep and goats gobbled up when they were let out into the field.
Organizer Hanspeter Etzold said the action was aimed at people who are still hesitating to get vaccinated.
“Sheep are such likeable animals — maybe they can get the message over better,” he said.
The German government has made an accelerated vaccination campaign its top priority in attempting to beat back the latest wave of COVID-19 infections.
The percentage of the population that has received at least two shots stood on Monday at 71.2%. Those who have received a booster shot has increased much faster in recent weeks and now stands at 38.9% of the population.
Health Ministry spokesman Andreas Deffner said on Monday that the public debate over vaccinations in recent weeks appeared to have prompted some holdouts to change their minds.
Germany has lower vaccination rates most other Western European nations, although some are simply unsure if they should get a jab rather than vehemently opposed to vaccination.
“Sheep are popular with people and carry positive emotional connotations. So perhaps they can reach many people emotionally when logic and scientific reasoning don’t do the job,” the organiser of the campaign, Hanspeter Etzold, told Reuters.
Etzold works with shepherds, companies and animals to run team-building events in the northern German town of Schneverdingen.
“I have noticed how enthusiastically the sheep are received and that it simply reaches people deep inside, which is perhaps not possible rationally, with rational arguments,” he said.
The animals, which belong to shepherd Steffen Schmidt and his wife, followed pieces of bread spread on the ground to form the 100 metre long syringe shape as they were filmed by drone.
According to the German Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases, 71.3% of Germany’s population had received two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine and 39.3% had received booster shots by Tuesday.
This places Germany among Western European countries with the lowest vaccination rates, data from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control shows.
At the same time, only around 5%-10% of Germans are vehemently opposed to vaccination and the rest are undecided, according to RKI data.
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