'Dracula's castle' offers visitors COVID jab and free visit to torture exhibition

May 10, 2021

Bran Castle is known as the inspiration for the vampire's home in Bram Stoker's novel Dracula.

But visitors during the COVID-19 pandemic are more likely to leave with puncture marks in their arms than their necks this month.

Like most of the world's tourist attractions, the castle in Romania's Carpathian mountains seen a drop in the number of tourists this year.

So instead, it has become a COVID-19 vaccination centre.

Medical workers with bloody fang stickers on their scrubs are offering free shots of the Pfizer vaccine every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday this month.

No appointment is needed and vaccine recipients also get free entry to the castle's exhibit of 52 medieval torture tools.

They will also get what the castle's website describes as a "vaccination diploma" hailing their "boldness and responsibility".

Alexandru Priscu, marketing director of the 14th century castle, said: "The idea... was to show how people got jabbed 500-600 years ago in Europe."

Fernando Orozco, a 37-year-old renewable energy market developer, got his jab on Saturday and was rewarded with his vaccine diploma.

"I was already planning to come to the castle and I just thought it was the two-for-one special," he told Reuters news agency.

Romania's government wants to vaccinate 10 million people by September but it faces an uphill battle.

According to a survey released in April by Bratislava-based think tank Globsec, Romanians have the highest rate of vaccine hesitancy in eastern Europe.

Romania has administered at least 5.7 million doses of COVID vaccines, according to a Reuters tracker.

Assuming every person needs two doses, that's enough to have vaccinated about 14.9% of the country's population.

During the last week reported, Romania averaged about 73,897 doses administered each day and at that rate, it will take a further 53 days to administer enough doses for another 10% of the population.

Romania has seen just over one million cases of COVID-19 and almost 29,000 deaths from the virus.

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