Photos have been published on social media showing a line of Iranian travelers waiting to enter Armenia to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Armenia has announced that, starting next week, foreigners who enter the country for vaccinations must spend at least ten days there. Since a ten-day stay in Armenia is prohibitively expensive for most Iranians, many are trying to get into the country before the rule goes into effect.
ILNA reports that 18,000 Iranians have traveled to Armenia in just 48 hours.
With COVID-19 cases growing in recent days in what is being called the fifth coronavirus wave in Iran, Iranians have been traveling to neighboring countries that are cheaper to stay in and do not require a visa.
Ali Khamenei, supreme leader of the Islamic Republic, has prohibited the import of any Western-made vaccines. Over the last few months, the Russian Sputnik and Chinese Sinopharm vaccines have been imported in limited quantities and designated for healthcare professionals and individuals age 70 and older. ILNA reports that 7 million Iranians have been vaccinated, out of a total population of roughly 83 million.
The Iranian Health Ministry has issued emergency authorization for the domestically formulated Barakat vaccine, but it does not appear that mass production of it will be possible in the foreseeable future. There have been multiple news reports on problems in the vaccine production line, though these claims have been officially denied.