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Sheep, goats join Germany’s coronavirus vaccine drive — forming the shape of a 330-foot syringe

Shepherd Wiebke Schmidt-Kochan on Jan. 3 herded sheep and goats to form a 330-foot syringe to promote coronavirus vaccines in Schneverdingen, Germany. (Video: Pulse of Europe Koblenz)
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How do you inspire coronavirus vaccine skeptics to flock to vaccination sites? Some in Germany hope that arranging 700 sheep and goats in the shape of a giant syringe will help.

Aerial photos taken over a field in Schneverdingen, south of Hamburg, on Monday show the livestock perfectly arranged to create the roughly 330-foot display. Shepherd Wiebke Schmidt-Kochan told local media that bread was used to lure the animals into position.

Organizer Hanspeter Etzold, who often works with shepherds, businesses and animals to run team-building exercises, said the project was aimed at reaching those who remain skeptical of vaccinations.

“Sheep are such likable animals — maybe they can get the message over better,” he said, according to the Associated Press.

“We are in this together globally and we get out of this only together,” Etzold wrote in an email to The Washington Post on Tuesday, adding that the “sheep syringe” display was one that he hoped would appeal to people on an emotional level.

The unconventional move comes as many countries dial up their vaccination efforts amid the omicron outbreak, which has seen cases soar in Germany and around the world. In recent weeks, governments have further amplified calls for people to be vaccinated and boosted against the coronavirus.

A farmer couldn’t go to his aunt’s funeral because of covid. So he used sheep to send a heart-shaped message.

More than 7 million cases of the coronavirus have been recorded in Germany since the pandemic began, according to data from Johns Hopkins University, with at least 112,000 lives lost.

Just over 70 percent of Germans have now received at least one dose of coronavirus vaccine, and officials continue to debate compulsory vaccinations and quarantine rules. Under current measures, people who test positive or come into close contact with someone infected with the virus in Germany must isolate for two weeks.

“With a rapidly growing epidemic, we cannot simply paralyze the whole country from one day to the next,” Bavaria’s state premier, Markus Söder, said last week.

In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently shortened its recommended isolation period to five days for those who have asymptomatic infections.