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Chile says COVID-19 vaccinations could start over the week ahead

·1 min read

SANTIAGO, Dec 20 (Reuters) - Doses of the coronavirus vaccine developed by Pfizer Inc could start being deployed in Chile as early as next week, with the first round of injections going to health care workers, President Sebastian Pinera said on Sunday.

The Chilean health regulator reported on Wednesday that it had approved emergency use of the vaccine. That same day Pinera said that the laboratory had confirmed that it would send the first 20,000 doses before the end of the month.

"We hope to start the vaccination process in Chile next week. And we are going to start with the people who have been on the front lines, in critical care units, caring for critical patients," Pinera said in televised remarks.

After health workers, the country's vaccination plan provides for shots to become available to other essential workers, then the elderly and other high priority groups.

"We are going to work so that before the end of the first half of next year we can vaccinate the bulk of the target population" of 15 million people, out of a total population of more than 18 million, Pinera said.

"I call on you to get vaccinated," the president emphasized.

As of Sunday, Chile has reported 585,545 cases of coronavirus and a total of 16,154 deaths.

(Reporting by Natalia A. Ramos Miranda, writing by Hugh Bronstein Editing by Sonya Hepinstall)