Greek PM expects COVID-19 vaccination to start Dec. 27

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ATHENS (Reuters) - Greece expects to start vaccinations against COVID-19 on Dec. 27, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said on Friday.

EU members have been waiting for the European Medicines Agency (EMA) to approve the vaccine developed by U.S. drug company Pfizer and its partner BioNTech.

Mitsotakis said that based on the latest EMA update, approval of the Pfizer vaccine is expected on Dec. 22.

“We expect that the first batch of the vaccine will be in our country on Dec. 26 and from the following day we will be able to have our first vaccinations at five hospitals in Athens and then in Thessaloniki,” he told a meeting held to discuss the country’s vaccination plan.

The Dec. 27 start date - confirmed by EU Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen - will be almost three weeks after the world’s first fully tested COVID-19 vaccination was administered in England.

Greece reported 1,115 new infections on Thursday, bringing the total to 128,710 and 3,948 COVID-19-related deaths.

Mitsotakis said the first to be vaccinated would be public health staff and residents of elderly care facilities. Then people aged over 65 will follow.

Reporting by George Georgiopoulos, Editing by William Maclean