Argentina's mass vaccination campaign against Covid-19 will begin on Tuesday, December 29, the government has confirmed.
The date was decided at a videoconference meeting between President Alberto Fernández and the country's provincial governors on Boxing Day (December 26) and comes after the arrival of the first doses of Russia's Sputnik V vaccine in Argentina on Christmas Eve.
"In a videoconference with the President @alferdez and governors, we have decided to start the Vaccination Plan from December 29 at 9am in the entire Argentine Republic simultaneously," Chaco Province Governor Jorge Capitanich revealed in a post on Twitter.
The government currently has 300,000 doses of Russia's Sputnik V vaccine developed by Russia's Nikolai Gamaleya Epidemiology and Microbiology Center – the first batch of millions of doses due to arrive in the first half of the next year. It is one of two vaccines to have been authorised by Argentina's drug authorities for use in the country, the other being the one produced by the US laboratory Pfizer and German firm BioNTech.
"The idea is that when Autumn arrives we will have the largest number of people at risk vaccinated," President Alberto Fernández told the Télam state news agency.
The decision to start the vaccination on Tuesday was agreed by the president with the provincial governors, although details of the strategic implementation plan are still yet to be released. The doses, which arrived at Ezeiza International Airport on Tuesday, have already been couriered to a warehouse in Avellaneda and will be moved to regions across the country on Monday.
First in line to receive the vaccine are healthcare professionals who are treated patients with Covid-19. For his part, Córdoba Province Governor Juan Schiaretti revealed that a survey of medical professionals in the region had found that 98 percent were willing to take the vaccine.
Argentina has also signed vaccine supply agreements with the University of Oxford for its effort produced with the AstraZeneca pharmaceutical company and with the Covax mechanism of the World Health Organisation (WHO). It is in talks with Pfizer to agree a deal for its vaccine, while it is also exploring options in China.
Since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, the country to date has suffered more than 42,500 fatalities and almost 1.6 million infections.
Argentina ordered mandatory social distancing measures on November 9, ending a phase of strict isolation that first began on March 20.