By Jiri Skacel
PRAGUE (Reuters) - Superman, Cinderella and Minions were among characters from films, comics and fairy tales who greeted children at a COVID-19 vaccination centre in Prague on Saturday to ease their nerves as they came to be inoculated.
Despite a lull in coronavirus infections in the past month, the Czech Republic is trying to boost vaccination rates because it is bracing for the Omicron coronavirus variant. Vaccinations lag other European Union countries.
With children aged 5-11 now eligible for the vaccine, staff dressed in costume at one of the biggest vaccination centres in the Czech capital helped children who came to be vaccinated.
"We thought it would be better to have a day just for the kids," said Nikola Melicharova, a vaccination centre worker dressed for the day as Snow White. "And because kids are usually a bit afraid of vaccinations, we decided for a fairy tale day so that it was a little more pleasant."
Some 62.4% of the population in the country of 10.7 million has been fully inoculated, compared to a rate of 68.6% in the whole of the EU, according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.
The Czech Republic started giving shots to children aged 5-11 in mid-December. Health Ministry figures show just over 27,000 shots had been administered to this age group by Friday.
Some children cried, but less so while talking to their favourite characters.
"I think it is right (for vaccinations). It is the only way out of the pandemic," said Jaroslav Kottner, who brought his nine-year-old son to be vaccinated.
(Reporting by Jiri Skacel, writing by Jason Hovet, editing by Timothy Heritage)