The first 10,000 doses of a 10-million purchase of the Pfizer-BioNtech coronavirus vaccine arrived in Chile on Thursday with inoculations of health workers in the hardest hit sectors to begin immediately, reported Reuters.
Chile is the first South American country to begin vaccinating against COVID-19. Mexico obtained 3,000 doses of the vaccine on Wednesday, Costa Rica was set to receive Pfizer doses on Thursday and Argentina was expecting the first doses of Russia’s Sputnik vaccine also on Thursday.
The COVID-19 vaccine doses arrived at Santiago airport from Pfizer’s manufacturing hub just before 7 a.m. local time on Christmas Eve, according to a statement from the presidency. The boxes were transferred by police helicopter to a logistics centre in Santiago, capital, with vaccinations due to begin later in the morning.
Authorities intend to inoculate 80% of Chile’s 19 million population by the first half of 2021.
The two-dose Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine is be issued to health workers in hospitals in Santiago on Thursday. Health workers in the southern provinces of Araucania, BioBio and Magallanes will begin to be inoculated on Christmas Day.
President Sebastián Piñera said the vaccine was “free and voluntary”, and approved by both local and international health regulators. “When someone vaccinates themselves they are protecting not just themselves but also protecting their loved ones, their community and the country,” he stated.