European countries have followed Britain's lead in introducing new weapon vaccines in the fight against Covid-19 as retirees and medical professionals line up to receive the first shots.
Mass vaccination against Covid-19 began on Sunday in countries like Italy, Spain, Germany and Slovakia as EU governments agreed on an official launch date for the shots to trigger a pandemic that crippled the economy and saw more than 1, 7 million lives worldwide.
In Italy, the first country in Europe to record significant numbers of infections, 29-year-old nurse Claudia Alivernini was one of three medical workers at the head of the queue for the Pfizer and BioNTech-developed shot.
When the nurse received the vaccine at Spallanzani Hospital in Rome, she said, "It's the beginning of the end … it was an exciting, historic moment."
Claudia Alivernini Receives the Pfizer / BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine as Italy Begins Vaccinations for Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) at Spallanzani Hospital in Rome, Italy on December 27
Ms Alivernini added, "I am here today as a citizen, but most importantly as a nurse, to represent my category and all health workers who choose to believe in science."
The 450 million European Union is trying to catch up with the US and UK who have already vaccinated with the Pfizer shot.
Germany started its official Covid-19 vaccination campaign on Sunday, but the first bumps were actually administered the day before. Edith Kwoizalla, 101, was the first person in the country to be vaccinated in a nursing home in Halberstadt, Northern Germany – she was born shortly after the Spanish flu pandemic began in 1918.
Referring to the UK's rapid approval of the vaccine, Tobias Krüger, director of Ms. Kwoizalla's nursing home, told The Times: "Every day we wait is a day too many."
In Spain, Araceli Hidalgo, aged 96, was the first person to receive the vaccine. She was vaccinated in her nursing home in Guadalajara near the capital, Madrid.
Ninety-two-year-old Gertrude Vogel will be one of the first to be vaccinated with a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 coronavirus vaccine on December 27 in the Riehl nursing home in Cologne
Doctor Bernhard Ellendt, right, injected the COVID-19 vaccine into the 101-year-old nursing home resident Edith Kwoizalla on December 26th in Halberstadt
After the vaccination, Ms. Hidalgo said: “Thank God. Let's see if we can make this virus go away. & # 39;
The EU is expected to receive 12.5 million doses by the end of the year, enough to vaccinate 6.25 million people on the two-dose regime. The companies are striving to meet global demand and aim to get 1.3 billion recordings in the next year.
The block has signed contracts with a number of drugmakers besides Pfizer, including Moderna and AstraZeneca, totaling more than two billion vaccine doses, with a goal of having all adults vaccinated by 2021.
With surveys pointing to high levels of reluctance to use the vaccine in countries from France to Poland, the 27-country European Union leaders are promoting it as the best chance to return to a normal life next year.
“We have a new weapon against the virus: the vaccine. We have to be firm once again, "tweeted French President Emmanuel Macron, who tested positive for the corona virus this month and left quarantine on Christmas Eve.
In Poland, Ireneusz Sikorski, 41, a member of the public who was interviewed as he was leaving the church in the Polish capital, Warsaw, was skeptical.
The first person to be vaccinated in Greece is Efstathia Kambissiouli, a nurse who was working in an intensive care unit at Evaggelismos Hospital in Athens on December 27
He said, “I don't think there is a vaccine in history that has been tested that quickly.
“I am not saying that there should be no vaccination. But I'm not going to test an unconfirmed vaccine on my children or myself. & # 39;
Elsewhere, the distribution of the shot posed major challenges due to the temperature requirements. The vaccine uses a new mRNA technology and must be stored at around -70 degrees Celsius.
In Germany, campaigns were delayed in several cities after a temperature gauge showed that around 1,000 shots may not have been kept cold enough during transit.
BioNtech said it was responsible for shipping to the 25 German distribution centers and that the federal states and municipalities were responsible for shipping to the vaccination centers and mobile vaccination teams.
Temperature fluctuations occurred here. We are in contact with many authorities for advice, but it is up to them how to proceed, ”said a spokeswoman.
Authorities in the Bavarian region of Upper Franconia, an affected area, later said BioNTech had approved the vaccines.
"BioNTech has confirmed the quality of the vaccination shots," said a spokeswoman. "The vaccination program can begin (in our region)."
Sister Maria Golding will vaccinate Svein Andersen on Sunday December 27th in Oslo, Norway. Andersen, a resident of Ellingsrudhjemmet, was the first in Norway to receive the Covid-19 vaccine
Pfizer recordings used in Europe were shipped from their facility in Puurs, Belgium, in specially designed dry ice containers. They can be stored for up to six months at Antarctic winter temperatures or five days at 2 ° C to 8 ° C, a type of cooling commonly used in hospitals.
In total, Germany will receive 1.3 million cans before the end of this year and 11 to 13 million cans by the end of March.
According to a survey by YouGov for the German news agency DPA, around 65 percent of Germans are willing to be vaccinated.
In Italy, solar-powered health pavilions, designed to look like five-petaled primrose flowers – a symbol of spring – sprouted in the city's squares when the vaccination campaign began.
Portugal has set up separate cold stores for its Atlantic archipelagos, Madeira, and the Azores.
The vaccination campaign is all the more urgent as concerns about new variants of the virus related to a rapid spread of cases in the UK and South Africa.
"We know that the pandemic will not simply go away from today, but the vaccine is the beginning of the victory over the pandemic. The vaccine is a" game changer ", said the Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz.
Cases of the British variant have been found in Australia, Hong Kong and Europe, particularly Sweden, France, Norway and the Portuguese island of Madeira. So far, according to scientists, there is no evidence that the vaccines developed will be less effective against the new variants.
While Europe has some of the best-equipped health systems in the world, due to the scale of the effort, some countries are calling on retired doctors to help, while others have relaxed the rules on who can give the injections.
In addition to hospitals and nursing homes, sports halls and convention centers, which are empty due to lockdown restrictions, are becoming places for mass vaccinations.
The vaccinations also started in Norway, which is not a member of the EU bloc.
"I feel like a historical figure … almost like the first man on the moon," said 67-year-old nursing home resident Svein Andersen when he received the country's first shot in the capital, Oslo.
After European governments have been criticized for failing to work together in early 2020 to counter the spread of the virus, this time the goal is to ensure equal access across the region.
But even then, Hungary jumped at the official roll-out on Saturday by firing gunshots to frontline workers in hospitals in the capital Budapest. The Netherlands said they won't start vaccinating until January 8th.
Slovakia also got some vaccinations against medical staff on Saturday, and in Germany a small number of people in a nursing home were also vaccinated a day earlier.
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