Pensioners, medics kickstart Europe mass vaccination in bid to slay COVID
London, Dec. 28, 2020 (AltAfrica)-Europe launched a mass COVID-19 vaccination drive on Sunday with pensioners and medics lining up to get the first shots to see off a pandemic that has crippled economies and claimed more than 1.7 million lives worldwide.
“Thank God,” 96-year-old Araceli Hidalgo said as she became the first person in Spain to have a vaccine at her care home in Guadalajara, near the capital Madrid.
“Let’s see if we can make this virus go away.”
Today, we start turning the page on a difficult year. The #COVID19 vaccine has been delivered to all EU countries.— Ursula von der Leyen (@vonderleyen) December 26, 2020
Vaccination will begin tomorrow across the EU.
The #EUvaccinationdays are a touching moment of unity. Vaccination is the lasting way out of the pandemic. pic.twitter.com/pYOj5vS2gV
In Italy, the first country in Europe to record significant numbers of infections, 29-year-old nurse Claudia Alivernini was one of three medical staff at the head of the queue for the shot developed by Pfizer and BioNTech.
“It is the beginning of the end … it was an exciting, historic moment,” she said at Rome’s Spallanzani hospital.
The region of 450 million people is trying to catch up with the United States and Britain, which have already started vaccinations using the Pfizer shot.
The European Union is due to receive 12.5 million doses by the end of the year, enough to vaccinate 6.25 million people based on the two-dose regimen. The companies are scrambling to meet global demand and aim to make 1.3 billion shots next year.The bloc has secured contracts with a range of drugmakers besides Pfizer, including Moderna and AstraZeneca, for a total of more than two billion vaccine doses and has set a goal for all adults to be inoculated during 2021.
With surveys pointing to high levels of hesitancy towards the vaccine in countries from France to Poland, leaders of the 27-country European Union are promoting it as the best chance of getting back to something like normal life next year.
“We have a new weapon against the virus: the vaccine. We must stand firm, once more,” tweeted French President Emmanuel Macron, who tested positive for the coronavirus this month and left quarantine on Christmas Eve.
But Ireneusz Sikorski, 41, leaving church in the Polish capital of Warsaw, was sceptical.
“I don’t think there’s a vaccine in history that has been tested so quickly,” he said. “I am not saying vaccination shouldn’t be taking place. But I am not going to test an unverified vaccine on my children, or on myself.”