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Mauricette, a 78-year-old French woman, receives the first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine in the country. Mauricette, a 78-year-old French woman, receives the first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine in the country. 

EU rolls out COVID vaccines amid ongoing pandemic

The European Union has begun vaccinating its population with vaccines against COVID-19. A coordinated effort to halt the coronavirus pandemic that authorities say has claimed nearly two million lives worldwide. Hungary was among the first EU nations to roll-out the jab.

By Stefan J. Bos

Soldiers are helping to deliver thousands of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 jabs in Budapest. Almost immediately, doctors start vaccinating here at the Hungarian capital’s Del Pest, or South Pest, Central Hospital.

“Everybody who receives a vaccine receives a control card,” a doctor said as he administered the vaccine. The European Union’s first-person is to receive the jab is the Hungarian head physician Adrienne Kertész.”I waited long to receive this vaccine. Now I can work in the hospital without being afraid to be infected with COVID-19,” she explained.

With almost 9,000 people dead because of or with the coronavirus, Hungary already began vaccinating Saturday. Most EU nations started rolling out vaccines Sunday.

The drive aims to project a unified message, explained the President of the EU’s executive European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen. “And people will start taking the vaccine in Athens, in Rome, in Helsinki, in Sofia, you just name it. Our European vaccination days are a touching moment of unity and a European success story,” she added in a video message.

Health workers

Like in Hungary, health care workers are among the first to roll up their sleeves across the Europe Union’s 27 member states.

They have been battling the virus with only masks and shields to protect themselves. For them, the vaccines represent emotional relief.

Authorities also view it as a public chance to urge Europeans to get the shots for their health and others.

The elderly are among other vulnerable groups to receive vaccines first. European governments admit it will take time to distribute vaccines to all of the EU’s 450 million people.

While many Europeans remain skeptical, authorities say vaccinations are the best chance to end coronavirus restrictions such as curfews and resume normal lives.

27 December 2020, 22:11