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Interview with Igor Tsukurov: Vaccination rate at Polyus Verninskoye exceeds 90%

Interview with Igor Tsukurov: Vaccination rate at Polyus Verninskoye exceeds 90%

Polyus Verninskoye takes all COVID-related recommendations by the Health ministry and human wellbeing regulator, Rospotrebnadzor, very seriously. The Company continues to be highly focused on the health and safety of its people, including our contractors.

The vaccination rate at Verninskoye is one of the highest in any mine across the country. As of 28 September 2021, over 90% of the Company’s employees had been vaccinated. Igor Tsukurov, Managing Director of Polyus Verninskoye, provided more details on the vaccination campaign in an interview.

— When did vaccination campaign at Verninskoye start?

— It started in early 2021, we launched the campaign as soon as vaccines became available. Our partnership with the Bodaibo district hospital was extremely helpful for this. We began by determining the proportion of people at Verninskoye who were willing to be vaccinated. This only included workers due to stay on site for more than one month because they needed to receive two doses of the vaccine and then be observed in order to mitigate any possible risks, such as feeling unwell.

— Who organized and implemented the campaign?

— Our employees were vaccinated by nurses from the district hospital under the supervision of a general practitioner. These specialists reached out and agreed to visit the site, which is three hours away from the city. Our employees received their vaccines in the medical center on site, with all the necessary safety precautions being taken. Workers were given a schedule of appointments organized by time and departments. This was strictly adhered to in order to avoid cross-contamination. The vaccination process was supported by volunteer employees who ensured that all the rules were followed, such as wearing PPE and adhering to social distancing.

The Company’s health specialists helped to control and support the process. It was challenging to keep to the appointments, as the schedule constantly needed to be updated. Medical experts worked with our directors and the different teams to explain the benefits of vaccination and spread this information around the Company.

— How did you achieve such a high vaccination rate?

— We comprehensively informed our employees about the national vaccination campaign, particularly the campaigns in the region and the Bodaibo district. From the beginning of the pandemic, we made an effort to raise awareness. Every day, our corporate newspaper was distributed around Polyus Verninskoye sharing the latest news including the number of cases and FAQs. Fighting fake news was a crucial element to achieving a high vaccination rate. Thanks to the coordinated efforts of the team, it was always clear which pieces of news were misinformation and which were true. These were disproven in the bulletin with a reference to reliable sources, including the press service of the Governor of Irkutsk Region, the regional humanitarian regulator and notable practitioners. This approach to update and educate our employees on the benefits of vaccination brought a notable benefit to their health.

— What was the collective attitude towards vaccination?

— When the news broke of the development and availability of vaccines, the overwhelming majority viewed this as a positive and wanted to be vaccinated. Senior management encouraged their colleagues to receive the vaccine and comments and from those who were first to be vaccinated were published in the corporate newspaper. This included how they felt afterwards, with some experiencing a fever, muscle pain and fatigue. This left everyone prepared for the fact that it could be a straightforward experience.

— What happened in cases where someone who received the vaccine was unwell?

— The Company supported everyone who experienced adverse effects. People who felt unwell were able to take a paid day off, with this being extended where recommended by a doctor.

— How did you encourage people to receive the vaccine?

— We launched a giveaway campaign, titled “Get vaccinated, receive a gift”, rewarding the first 100 employees with Polyus-branded gifts as well as herbal tea with honey to boost their immunity.

— There are 1,700 people on site at the mine, only 700 of which are permanent employees meaning that the rest must be contractors. Are they included in the campaign?

— Having achieved a sufficiently high vaccination rate at Verninskoye, we began intensifying our efforts with the contractors. Their supervisors on site started to raise awareness and explain the benefits of vaccination. Now, we continue to actively work towards vaccinating our team, and I believe this will help us to overcome the pandemic faster. I would like to thank everyone who approached this with a positive attitude towards vaccination, taking care of their health and the health of those around them.

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