Visitors to Romania’s forbidding Bran Castle, which styles itself as the inspiration for Dracula’s lair, are being jabbed with needles rather than vampire fangs in a coronavirus vaccination drive.

“I came to visit the castle with my family and when I saw the poster I gathered up my courage and agreed to get the injection,” said Liviu Necula, a 39-year-old engineer.

Those who receive the vaccine are handed a certificate hailing their “boldness and responsibility” promising they will be welcome at the castle “for the coming 100 years” – as well as offered a free tour of the “torture chamber”.

Nestled in a misty valley in the Carpathian mountains, Bran Castle is associated with the 15th-century Romanian prince Vlad Tepes, known as “the Impaler”, although he never stayed there.

People arrive to be vaccinated at Bran Castle
People arrive to be vaccinated at Bran Castle. Photograph: Daniel Mihăilescu/AFP/Getty Images

Bram Stoker, the author of Dracula, is believed to have been inspired by Vlad and the site has long been associated with his 1897 novel that helped found the modern vampire genre, though there is no evidence he knew about Bran Castle.

Romania’s government has turned to local vaccination drives and 24-hour “marathons” at major venues such as the National Library in Bucharest to get as many citizens as possible immunised.

“These centres are for everyone who wants to get vaccinated but doesn’t feel like making an appointment online,” Beatrice Mahler, the director of Marius Nasta hospital, told AFP.

Almost 3.6 million of the country’s 19 million people have received at least one vaccine dose, with authorities aiming to inoculate 5 million by June.

This content first appear on the guardian

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