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First countries to start mass COVID vaccinations

On 8 December, England became the first country in the world to roll out the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. Canada also started administering doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine on 14 December and the United States of America began vaccinating with the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine on 15 December. Russia also started distributing its own Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine on 5 December, even though it hadn’t finished its final trials.

Countries around the world are racing to protect their citizens with a COVID-19 vaccine, particularly in the Northern hemisphere countries being hard hit at the moment with high daily numbers and rising death tolls. Things are changing quickly. This article was correct as of 15 December.

The UK plan

The UK has ordered 40 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine. This vaccine was developed by American drug maker, Pfizer, and Germany's BioNTech. Forty million doses will be enough to vaccinate 20 million people, as each person will need a booster shot of the vaccine after 21 days.

Doctors are administering the vaccine to around 50 hospitals in England. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have also started rolling out the vaccine.

From 14 December, the vaccinations will be available through general practitioners and vaccination centres.

Priority is being given to vaccinating people who are over 80, frontline healthcare workers, and care home staff and residents.

You can read more about the UK’s vaccination plan in an article on the ABC News website.

The US plan

On 15 December, the death toll from COVID-19 in the United States reached over 300,000. On the same day, doctors administered the first Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine in the country. Millions of vials of the vaccine are being distributed to 150 hospitals across the states.

However, while the roll out has begun, most Americans won’t be able to receive the vaccine until well into 2021. Priority is being given to vaccinating selected healthcare workers and elderly people living in residential care.

You can read more about the US vaccination plan on the BBC website.

The Canadian plan

Canada has only received enough of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for 124,500 people. Premiers in each province have had to be very selective about where and which groups of people will be vaccinated first. In general, elderly people and frontline workers will be the first to receive the vaccine in Canada. The country hopes to increase the number over the next few months.

You can read more about Canada’s vaccination plan on the NPR website.

The Russian plan

Scientists have raised concerns about how quickly Moscow has started mass vaccinations of the Russian-made Sputnik V vaccine. It gave the regulatory go-ahead before full trials to test for safety and effectiveness had been finished.

The Sputnik V vaccine, like the Pfizer one, needs two injections, with the second dose given 21 days after the first. Priority is being given to vaccinating doctors and other medical workers, teachers and social workers.

Russia has capped the age for those receiving shots at 60. And people with some underlying health conditions, pregnant women and those who have had a respiratory illness in the past two weeks are not allowed to be vaccinated.

You can read more about Moscow’s vaccination plan in an article on the ABC News website.

15 December 2020
Applies to all states