Brussels: Several European countries have launched their vaccination campaigns against the novel coronavirus. The first batch of vaccines was distributed among European Union (EU) member states, in the hope of defeating the disease.
Greece received 9,750 doses of the vaccine on Christmas Day and started the vaccination campaign on Sunday, Xinhua news agency reported.
Health professionals and the elderly will be the first to get vaccinated in the country in the coming weeks.
"Today all Greeks are smiling behind our masks. The vaccine is the only way to be able to permanently leave behind this Covid adventure," Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said, who, together with President Katerina Sakellaropoulou, was among the first ones to get vaccinated against the virus on Sunday.
In line with other EU countries, Germany also launched its mass COVID-19 vaccination on Sunday, and the first batch of vaccines in the country will give priority to people over 80 years in nursing homes, and those frontline medical and nursing staff.
The vaccine currently being used in Germany was developed together by German company BioNTech and American firm Pfizer.
The country is expected to receive between 3 and 4 million doses of the vaccine by the end of January next year.
Sweden, which also rolled out its vaccination program on Sunday, announced that nursing home residents and elderly people receiving home care, primarily those aged 70 and up, should be first in line to get the vaccine.
Prime Minister, Stefan Lofven, congratulated a 91-year-old nursing home resident who became the first to be inoculated.
"This is a big day, a moment of light after a dark year. We really want to thank you," he said.
The first doses delivered in Sweden will cover a total of 4,900 people around the country, said
Swedish authorities said that an additional 80,000 doses will be delivered per week starting from Monday and that the plan is to vaccinate all adults by mid-June.
Poland, which received a shipment of 10,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, also plans to vaccinate frontline medical workers first.
Portugal also began its vaccination campaign on Sunday, with the first batch of 9,750 doses of vaccines developed by Pfizer-BioNTech being administered to health professionals at hospitals in the cities of Porto, Coimbra and Lisbon.
This moment "Symbolises the ability to work together, because for months the professionals of the National Health Service and other sectors of society have been collaborating to guarantee the best care and the best assistance", said Health Minister Marta Temido, who visited and monitored various vaccination sites.
The first vaccination phase will last until the end of March 2021, with 1.2 million free doses expected to be applied, health authorities said, adding that nursing homes are the next priority group.
Similar situations have also taken place in Croatia, Cyprus, Lithuania and other countries.
According to the World Health Organization, at least 222 COVID-19 candidate vaccines were being developed worldwide, with 56 of them under clinical trials.
In its latest update, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control said the continent has so far reported a total of 23,081,330 confirmed coronavirus cases and 516,257 deaths.