EU nations kick off mass vaccination

Rome, December 27

European Union (EU) nations kicked off a coordinated effort on Sunday to give Covid-19 vaccination to the most vulnerable among the bloc’s nearly 450 million people, marking a moment of hope in the continent’s battle against the worst public health crisis in a century.

Healthcare workers, the elderly and leading politicians got some of the first shots across the 27-nation bloc to reassure the public that the vaccinations are safe and represent the best chance to emerge from the pandemic.

“It didn’t hurt at all,” said Mihaela Anghel, a nurse at the Matei Bals Institute in Bucharest, who was the first person to get the vaccine in Romania.

Altogether, the EU’s 27 nations have recorded at least 16 million coronavirus infections and more than 336,000 deaths, huge numbers that experts still agree understate the true toll of the pandemic due to missed cases and limited testing.

All those getting shots will have to come back in three weeks for a second dose.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen released a video Saturday celebrating the vaccine rollout, calling it “a touching moment of unity”. The vaccination campaign should ease frustrations that were building up, especially in Germany, as Britain, Canada and the United States kicked off their inoculation programmes with the same vaccine weeks earlier.

As it turned out, immunisations began a day early in Germany, Hungary and Slovakia. — AP

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