Algeria launches its COVID-19 vaccination campaign

Cropped hand wearing a nitrile glove holding a Covid-19 vaccine vial and a syringe

Algeria on Saturday launched its COVID-19 vaccination campaign in the town where the country’s first case of infection with the coronavirus was confirmed in March.

According to a report by AP, a 65-year-old retiree got the first shot of Russia’s Sputnik-V vaccine at a hospital in the town of Blida, about 40 kilometers (25 miles) southwest of the capital, Algiers, in the presence of health authorities.

“All measures have been taken to ensure a good rollout of the vaccination campaign on the national territory,” Health Minister Abderrahmane Benbouzid said.

Vaccines will start being administered in all regions of the country on Sunday. The campaign is set to start with health care workers, the elderly and other vulnerable populations.

Algeria received its first shipment of vaccines Friday at the Boufarik military airport, west of Algiers. Authorities did not indicate how many arrived, though the government had said it had ordered a first batch of 500,000 doses.

The government said it is also negotiating acquisition of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Algeria has lost at least 2,884 lives to the coronavirus pandemic and confirmed more than 106,000 cases.

Algerians have been frustrated by repeated broken promises of an imminent COVID vaccine rollout. Concerns are also growing about Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune, convalescing for more than a month in an undisclosed location in Germany after suffering COVID side effects.