Covid: Dracula's castle in Romania offers tourists vaccine

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Image source, Getty Images
Image caption, Anyone who visits the castle can get a free Pfizer vaccine

Visitors to Dracula's castle are being jabbed with needles rather than fangs after a Covid-19 vaccine centre has been set up at the Transylvanian site.

Medics with fang stickers on their scrubs are offering Pfizer shots to everyone who visits the 14th-century Bran Castle in central Romania.

It is part of a government drive to encourage more Romanians to get jabbed.

Some believe the castle inspired the vampire's lair in Bram Stoker's iconic novel Dracula.

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption, The castle is using vampire-themed branding to encourage people to get vaccinated

Romania has recorded just over a million infections since the pandemic began, and nearly 29,000 deaths.

The country's government says it wants to vaccinate 10 million people by September, but almost half of Romanians say they are not inclined to get the jab - one of the highest hesitancy levels in Europe, according to a survey by Globesec.

Bran Castle hopes its unique initiative will help boost vaccination numbers. During every weekend in May, anyone can turn up without an appointment to get a jab, and they also get free entry to the castle's exhibit of 52 medieval torture instruments.

"The idea... was to show how people got jabbed 500-600 years ago in Europe," the castle's marketing director, Alexandru Priscu told Reuters news agency.

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption, The 14th-century castle is believed to be the inspiration for Bram Stoker's novel Dracula

There is also a hope that the service will bring more people to the castle in Romania's Carpathian mountains, where tourist numbers have fallen during the pandemic.

The castle rises dramatically from the forests in the foothills of the Carpathian mountains, 170km (105 miles) north of Bucharest. It has been associated with Stoker's vampire Count Dracula because it is thought to have hosted the infamous Prince Vlad "the Impaler", on whom Dracula was based.

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