BRUSSELS

People in Belgium Monday received the first COVID-19 vaccines developed by BioNTech/Pfizer, after it was approved by the European Medicine Agency last week.

Belgium’s first vaccine was given to 96-year-old Jos Hermans at a nursing home in the municipality of Puurs, where Pfizer’s production facility is located.

Hermans told local media after receiving the vaccine: “I feel 30 years younger now.”

As the mass vaccination has started throughout the country, the government in Belgium prioritizes the elderly population as well as people who work at nursing homes.

In the second stage, the healthcare workers, people over the age of 65, and those aged 45-65 with chronic diseases will be vaccinated.

The country of 11 million plans to vaccinate 70% of its population by the end of 2021.

Belgium has been one of Europe’s most affected countries from the pandemic in terms of the death toll compared to overall population, with total fatalities reaching 19,200.

The country was hit hardest by the second wave of the virus, with an average of 15,000 daily cases, after which the government decided to bring night curfews as well as closing bars, cafes, and restaurants as part of measures.

On Dec. 18-24, Belgium recorded an average of 2,170 daily new coronavirus cases with overall infections nearing 639,000.

* Writing and contribution by Iclal Turan in Ankara.

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