Azerbaijan’s Interior Ministry has announced that it had uncovered several instances of doctors and other individuals selling fake or fraudulent vaccination certificates.
The announcement was made on Tuesday according to the Interior Ministry, the price for receiving a vaccination passport without actually receiving a vaccination had a price ranging from ₼200-₼250 ($120-$150).
Normally, those vaccinated against COVID-19 in Azerbaijan are issued so-called COVID-19 ‘passports’. This document allows access to all educational institutions, public amenities, shopping malls, and hotels. It is illegal to attend mass ceremonies such as weddings without a vaccination passport.
Azerbaijani officials first mentioned the forgery of vaccination passports on 20 August, during the briefing of the Cabinet of Ministers' Operation Headquarters — Azerbaijan’s COVID-19 response nerve centre — where Presidential Aide Shahmar Movsumov announced the authorities had received reports of doctors issuing fake vaccination passports to patients.
‘After the new quarantine rules [requiring COVID-19 passports] were introduced by the government, we see that people are more motivated to get vaccinated’, Vasif Ismayil, a doctor in Baku who works with COVID-19 patients told OC Media. ‘The number of applications for vaccines has increased yesterday and today, and queues have formed in hospitals.’
While there is vaccine scepticism in Azerbaijan ‘as in other countries around the world’, Ismayil said, the situation in Azerbaijan is ‘not so terrible’.
‘People are joining the vaccination process, even though they are complaining about questions that have not yet been fully answered’, he said.
He added that considering the fact that roughly 25% of the Azerbaijani population has been vaccinated is a ‘good indicator’, and in his estimate that of the total number of people vaccinated ‘not more than 2%’ have received vaccine passports fraudulently. He said that with the Ministry of Internal Affairs tackling the issue ‘these cases of fraud will soon be completely eliminated’.
Meanwhile, those who pay for a fraudulent vaccine passport were ‘not rational’.
‘If they are vaccinated [for free] instead of paying a bribe, they will protect themselves and the people around them from becoming infected’, he said.
As of the month of September, roughly 1,700,000 people were vaccinated in Azerbaijan, with 4 million having received their first dose. There are nearly 4,000 daily infections in Azerbaijan and an average of 40 daily deaths.