European countries start vaccinations against COVID-19, with hope to defeat virus

Around Sunday, several European countries launched COVID-19 vaccination as the first batch of vaccines was distributed among European Union (EU) member states, in the hope of defeating the virus.

“Today all Greeks are smiling behind our masks. The vaccine is the only way to be able to permanently leave behind this COVID adventure,” said Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, who, together with President Katerina Sakellaropoulou, was among the first Greeks vaccinated against COVID-19 on Sunday.

Greece received 9,750 doses of the vaccine on Christmas Day and started the vaccination campaign on Sunday. Health professionals and the elderly will be the first to get vaccinated in the country in coming weeks.

In line with other EU countries, Germany also launched its mass vaccination against COVID-19 nationwide on Sunday, and the first batch of vaccines in the country will give priority to people over 80 years in nursing homes, and those frontline medical and nursing staff.

The vaccine currently being used in Germany was developed together by German company BioNTech and American company Pfizer. The country is expected to receive between 3 and 4 million doses of the vaccine by the end of January next year.

Sweden, which also rolled out its vaccination program on the same day, announced that nursing home residents and elderly people receiving home care, primarily those aged 70 and up, should be first in line to get the vaccine.

Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven congratulated a 91-year-old nursing home resident who became the first to be inoculated against COVID-19 on Sunday morning. “This is a big day, a moment of light after a dark year. We really want to thank you,” Lofven said.

The first doses delivered in Sweden will cover a total of 4,900 people around the country, said Swedish authorities, adding that an additional 80,000 doses will be delivered to Sweden per week starting Monday and that the plan is to vaccinate all adults by mid-June.

Poland, which received a shipment of 10,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, also plans to vaccinate frontline medical workers first.

Similar situations have also taken place in Croatia, Cyprus, Lithuania, Portugal and other countries.

The mass vaccination against COVID-19 results from the joint effort of the scientific community and several who get vaccinated expressed their confidence in science.

“I am absolutely calm, confident, optimistic and with hope. I was called to do it and I did it with complete confidence,” said Antonio Sarmento, the first Portuguese to be immunized.

Ana Isabel Ribeiro, a nurse in Portugal, said that health professionals “now feel protected because it has been the most difficult year of our careers. I think it is a hope for us to continue our work in this fight against COVID-19.”