Hundreds of Holocaust survivors are slated to be vaccinated this week in Austria and Slovakia as part of vaccination campaigns organized to mark the 76th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp, a day known as International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
More than seven decades after one of the darkest periods in human history, the generation that survived Nazi death camps is aging and particularly vulnerable to the coronavirus. Jewish leaders have long pushed for their vaccinations to be prioritized.
According to the Vienna Jewish Community, which co-organized the program in cooperation with the Austrian Ministry of Health, around 400 people aged 85 and over were vaccinated on Wednesday in Vienna, including many Holocaust survivors.
According to Erika Jakubovits, director of the Vienna Jewish Community, who helped organize the event, around 12 doctors administered vaccinations.
“I think we owe it to our parents and grandparents to take care of these Holocaust survivors,” said Ms. Jakubovits on Wednesday, speaking by phone from a vaccine center.
A similar program was running in Bratislava, Slovakia, according to The Associated Press.
“The people are very happy,” said Ms. Jakubovits. “I think these are our most vulnerable members of society and we need to treat them accordingly and try to do everything for them.”
Moshe Kantor, President of the European Jewish Congress, this week called on European leaders to ensure that Holocaust survivors, who, like other people of advanced age, are extremely vulnerable to the virus, have access to the vaccine. The organization estimates that around 20,000 Holocaust survivors are still living in Europe today.
“They have shown mighty power of the Spirit throughout their lives, but unfortunately in the current crisis many have died alone and in pain or are now struggling for their lives, and many others are extremely isolated,” said Dr. Cantor During an International Holocaust Remembrance Day event held online this week.
“We have a duty to ensure that Holocaust survivors can live their final years in dignity and in the company of their loved ones.”