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Venezuela Launches COVID-19 Vaccination Program

Children play in an inflatable pool during carnival in the Pinto Salinas neighborhood of Caracas, Venezuela, Feb. 15, 2021, amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Venezuela began its immunization program against the COVID-19 virus by vaccinating front-line health care personnel Thursday, less than a week after receiving the first batch of 100,000 doses of the Russian vaccine Sputnik V.

"Fortunately, the strategic cooperation between Russia and Venezuela has allowed us to have access to one of the best vaccines in the world, with an efficacy of 91.6%,” Vice President Delcy Rodriguez said.

Venezuela participated in trials of the Sputnik V vaccine trials before signing a purchase agreement with Russia in December.

The Latin American country hopes to begin vaccinating the general public in April.

Health Minister Carlos Alvarado said officials aim to vaccinate 70% of the population this year in order to achieve herd immunity.

Venezuela has so far confirmed more than 134,000 COVID-19 cases and 1,297 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center.