By Laura Gamba
BOGOTA, Colombia (AA) – Uruguay on Monday became the last country in South America to launch a vaccination campaign, with a focus on teachers, soldiers, police and firefighters under 60 years old.
Although some vaccinators were inoculated over the weekend, the official start of the immunization program was March 1.
The country received a shipment containing 192,000 doses of the Chinese Sinovac vaccine Thursday and another 1.5 million doses are scheduled to start arriving on March 15. Between March and the end of April, 460,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine will also arrive in the country.
The country has purchased the necessary doses to vaccinate all adults in the country, said Public Health Minister Daniel Salinas.
The first doses of the Pfizer vaccine will be reserved for health personnel, who are more vulnerable to infection given their proximity to patients. The government estimates that 30,000 people will be vaccinated per day.
Recent polls show that more than 20% of Uruguayans would not be willing to get a COVID-19 shot. Government authorities have been urging the population to get vaccinated. Vaccination is not obligatory, but the government is promoting it as an act of solidarity.
President Luis Lacalle Pou said that although he will not be the first to be vaccinated, he will stick to the vaccination plan.
"I will be vaccinated when my turn comes with any vaccine," he said.
The South American nation of around 3.5 million people has managed the pandemic better than any other country in the region, including neighboring Brazil. However, it has seen a rapid rise in infections recently.
The country has reported nearly 60,000 infections, 611 deaths and 50,624 recoveries, according to a tally by US-based Johns Hopkins University.