Selin ATAY-TDO- A small independent Russian teachers’ union is urging members not to be coerced into accepting shots of the “Sputnik V” coronavirus vaccine, which is to be obligatory for military personnel.

Clinics in Moscow last week began receiving supplies of the vaccine, which has been approved for use inside Russia. However, the final Phase III test is not yet complete.

In an arrangement supported by President Vladimir Putin, officials have said that from September, doctors and teachers would be among the first to be voluntarily offered jab.

The shots of the vaccine will be made mandatory for military personnel, Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu has said.

With Russian schools re-opening on September 1 for the first time since March, the teachers’ union Uchitel has launched an online petition against making the vaccine mandatory for teachers before the final Phase 3 test complete. 

“It’s likely that school principals will be under pressure for everyone to be vaccinated,” the petition says.

A senior union official said that Uchitel represents only about 700 of Russia’s 1.2 million school teachers. However, the union reported that nearly 1,400 people have signed its petition.

Other than Uchitel, there is no teachers’ union known to have issued such a petition.

The Health Ministry said vaccination would not be mandatory and the ministry redirected other questions to the Education Ministry. However, the Education Ministry have failed to reply to a request for a comment.

The Moscow mayor’s office said any trials would be on a voluntary basis and that “there is no pressure on schools and therefore, no punishment measures towards teachers.”

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