Colombia to start COVID-19 vaccinations on Wednesday: president

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BOGOTA (Reuters) - Colombia will begin COVID-19 vaccinations on Wednesday following the arrival of the country’s first vaccines, from Pfizer Inc, President Ivan Duque said in his nightly broadcast on Monday.

The government had planned to administer the first dose this coming Saturday, following the Monday arrival of the country’s first vaccine doses. The health ministry last week said it was expecting more than 5.7 million doses from different providers in February and March.

“Today we received this first batch,” Duque said. “The vaccination process will begin the day after tomorrow, on Wednesday, Feb. 17.”

The first vaccinations will take place in the cities of Sincelejo and Monteria, capitals of Colombia’s Sucre and Cordoba provinces respectively, Health Minister Fernando Ruiz said during the broadcast.

Vaccinations will begin on Thursday in capital city Bogota, as well as other large cities.

The goal is to vaccinate 1 million Colombians in the first 30 days and Monday’s shipment is the first of a block of 1.65 million which will arrive over the next three weeks.

The country has the capacity to conduct up to 100,000 vaccinations per day, the health ministry added.

Front-line healthcare workers will be the first to be vaccinated, followed by those over 80 years old.

Colombia has recorded just under 2.2 million cases of coronavirus and 57,786 deaths.

Reporting by Julia Symmes Cobb and Oliver Griffin; Editing by Kirsten Donovan and Richard Chang