MONTERREY, Mexico (Reuters) – Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said on Tuesday he will wait his turn for the COVID-19 vaccine, as officials detailed a plan that prioritizes healthcare workers and the elderly to receive the first doses.
“I’m going to wait for it to correspond to me, for it to be my turn, according to the program,” Lopez Obrador told a regular news conference, adding that healthcare workers must be protected first because they are risking their lives.
Under the plan, 67-year-old Lopez Obrador will be in the fourth phase. People over 80 will be second in line after health workers, followed by those over 70, then those over 60.
The goal is to vaccinate at least 75% of the population over the age of 16 by the end of 2021 and to conclude inoculations by the first quarter of 2022.
The prospect of mass vaccinations comes as coronavirus infections and deaths scale new heights in Mexico.
Last week, Lopez Obrador implored Mexicans to cancel celebrations and even avoid exchanging Christmas presents to beat the pandemic, pitching a frugal festive season to one of the world’s largest capital cities.
Mexican Deputy Health Minister Hugo Lopez Gatell said during the same news conference that Mexico aims to begin administering Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine to 125,000 health workers in December, apparently scaling back an earlier plan to apply the first vaccine doses for 250,000 people by end of the year.
The health ministry did not immediately respond to a request for clarification of the matter.
Mexico will receive a million doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine each month in January, February, and March, Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard said during the news conference.
Ebrard said Mexico aims to sign a deal later this week for 35 million doses of China’s Cansino Biologics COVID-19 vaccine.
(Reporting by Ana Isabel Martinez, writing by Laura Gottesdiener and Anthony Esposito; Editing by Frank Jack Daniel and Tom Brown)