Babiš: First vaccines to arrive on Boxing Day, but public will have to wait until February

The European Medicines Agency has approved the Pfizer vaccine for use in Europe

Raymond Johnston

Written by Raymond Johnston
Published on 21.12.2020 19:10 (updated on 21.12.2020)

Prime Minister Andrej Babiš (ANO) expects the vaccine against COVID-19 from the Pfizer and BioNtech firms, which the European Medicines Agency (EMA) approved today, to arrive in the Czech Republic on Dec. 26 and vaccinations to start on Dec. 27, he said.

The first 9,750 vaccines are to be delivered to the Czech Republic in the evening of Dec. 26. Babiš said it was possible that yet another delivery, with twice as many doses, or 19,500, would arrive by the end of December.

In total, the Czech Republic has ordered 4 million vaccines for 2 million people. There is an option for further 2.4 million. The Czech Republic has a population of 10.7 million.

“We’ll see whether we manage to get them,” Babiš said.

Czech senior citizens or those who belong to a risk group may reserve a date of their vaccination in February or later on.

Health Minister Jan Blatný (for ANO) said the first vaccine delivery would be distributed to four hospitals in Prague and two in Brno. The other delivery, which might arrive on Dec. 28 or 29, will go to other parts of the country.

The European Commission is yet to confirm the EMA’s approval of the vaccine. "The EC may meet tomorrow evening. It is more or less a formal issue,” Babiš said.

Blatný said the Czech Republic had a detailed plan for distributing the vaccines, which will be delivered gradually. In January, the vaccines should be distributed to 30 vaccination centers of teaching hospitals and big regional hospitals. Lists of employees who will get vaccinated have been made, he said.

Babiš said the Brno University Hospital has 2,500 employees on the list, the Prague-Bulovka hospital 1,000 and the Institute of Clinic and Experimental Medicine (IKEM) has 600.

In January, medical workers from high-risk departments and hospitalized seniors may get vaccinated, followed by clients of care homes for the elderly. In mid-January, an online reservation system will be launched and members of the public who want to get vaccinated may reserve a date in February at the earliest.