Chile's President Sebastian Pinera and Health Ministry officials were on hand for the vaccination of the first five healthcare workers from intensive care units in the capital Santiago, who were vaccinated at the city's Metropolitan Hospital.
Zulema Riquelme, a 46-year-old nursing technician, was the first to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, which was then applied to a doctor, a nurse, a kinesiologist and an assistant, all from different hospitals.
Riquelme said the pandemic has entailed "tough, very tiring months," during which she was unable to see her family. She urged "everyone to get vaccinated and thus help us lower our workload."
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Health Minister Enrique Paris said vaccination would continue Friday at different area hospitals before vaccines are flown to the regions currently hardest hit by the health crisis, including the southern Biobio, La Araucania, and Magallanes
Another batch of 10,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine will arrive next week and the process will continue with periodic shipments until completing the 10 million that Chile has reserved for this laboratory.
During the first quarter of 2021, the vaccine will be applied to about 5 million people, including the elderly and the chronically ill. The rest of the population, some 15 million people, will get the vaccine for free during the first semester.
Chile reported 2,395 new cases of infection and 75 fatalities from COVID-19 in the last 24 hours, for a total caseload of 593,310, and 16,303 deaths.