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Colombia Receives its First Vaccine to Battle COVID-19

A healthcare worker collects a nasal swab sample to test for COVID-19, in Bogota, Colombia, Jan. 27, 2021.

Colombia is set to begin immunizations against COVID-19 after receiving its first shipment of vaccines on Monday.

President Ivan Duque and his health minister accepted the first 50,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine and said frontline health care workers and the elderly will be the first to get their shots.

Colombia has a contract to buy 10 million doses from Pfizer and it expects to soon receive 1.6 million doses from other laboratories.

The government says it intends to vaccinate 35 million people this year, including hundreds of thousands of Venezuelan migrants and refugees.

Colombia is one of the last countries in Latin America to start vaccinations, behind Ecuador, Panama and Chile.

President Duque said his administration was hesitant to start immunizations until it had assurance of getting a steady supply of vaccine to battle the novel coronavirus.

The president also said the arrival of vaccines does not end the use of masks and social distancing.

Colombia has more than 2,198,000 confirmed coronavirus cases and 57,786 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University Covid Resource Center.