BOGOTA, Colombia 

Colombia will receive the first batch of 1.7 million COVID-19 Pfizer Pharmaceuticals vaccines in February, according to the Ministry of Health Monday.

Healthcare workers and people over 80 years old will be first in line to get the vaccines, followed by the group of individuals between 60 and 79 years of age, and then the people with pre-existing conditions like hypertension, HIV and diabetes will get coronavirus vaccine shots on priority.

Health Minister Fernando Ruiz said that Colombians will not be able to choose the brand of vaccine they will receive.

“People will be vaccinated as the vaccines arrive in the country,” said Ruiz.

Colombia closed deals with pharmaceutical companies Pfizer and AstraZeneca to provide 20 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines, President Ivan Duque said on Friday. The country will also receive 20 million doses through the COVAX mechanism. The 40 million doses will cover 20 million people.

The country reached 40,000 coronavirus deaths and registered a new record for daily confirmed cases on Friday, reaching 13,277 cases, according to Johns Hopkins University. It records more than 1.5 million confirmed cases.

Those who have already been diagnosed with COVID-19 would not be included in the early stages of vaccination as it is assumed that their immune system is already prepared to protect them from the virus.

The country will continue negotiating with companies to acquire more doses, Duque said, to reach herd immunity by vaccinating 34 million people by 2021 in the country.

Duque said that he does not expect to be vaccinated first in the vaccination timeline.

“I am not looking for any preferential treatment here. Fortunately, because of my age and health condition, I am not in the risk group,” said the president to local media on Monday.

Duque emphasized that unlike heads of state like President-elect Joe Biden, from the United States, and Boris Johnson, from England, he does not have preexisting conditions.

However, he said that he will get vaccinated if it helps build confidence among the Colombian people.

“If the Ministry of Health considers that a way to do pedagogy is to be one of the first people to be vaccinated, I will do it gladly because it is about generating confidence,” he said.

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