BOGOTA (Reuters) – Colombian President Ivan Duque received his first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine on Sunday, as he urged people to continue protecting themselves against the coronavirus amid a new record in daily deaths in the Andean country.
Colombia, which has recorded more than 95,000 COVID-19 deaths, is in the process of vaccinating everyone over age 60 and people between ages 16 and 59 with pre-existing health conditions, as well as teachers and military personnel. Duque received his shot as the military commander in chief.
The country reported 577 COVID-19 deaths on Saturday, a new daily high.
Colombia began its vaccination campaign in February, prioritizing medical staff and older people. It aims to vaccinate more than 35 million people this year – 70% of its population – and has administered 12.9 million doses so far.
“Today more than ever we must be aware that the pandemic has not ended,” Duque said from Bogota’s military hospital.
Duque, who is set to receive his second dose on July 4, encouraged Colombians to continue social-distancing practices and the use of face masks, while also paying tribute to medical workers and those who have died from COVID-19.
Intensive care units in many cities remain close to capacity amid a prolonged third spike in cases. Colombia’s first shipment of Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose vaccine will arrive on Tuesday, according to the health ministry, and it will be used primarily for rural populations.
(Reporting by Julia Symmes Cobb; Editing by Will Dunham)