European Union Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has confirmed that member states will begin the bloc-wide mass vaccination program on December 27, 28, and 29.
Tweeting out the announcement, von der Leyen proudly declared that “we protect our citizens together”, adding the ‘Stronger Together’ slogan that became widely used during the 2016 Brexit campaign.
To prepare for the mass vaccination campaign, the EU is bringing in former doctors, student nurses, pharmacists, and soldiers, as well as turning hospitals, care homes, convention centers, and sports halls into mass inoculation sites.
After revealing the planned vaccination days, the EU Commission president held a coronavirus response meeting with officials in member states to discuss the situation, efforts to supply vaccines across the bloc, and rapid testing strategies to control the spread of the virus.
Alongside the EU chief’s statement, Germany’s Health Minister Jens Spahn confirmed the proposed timeline before holding an online meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and BioNTech executives.
Both Germany and the EU said the rollout is contingent on the European Medicines Agency (EMA) approving the vaccine, developed by Pfizer and BioNTech, as planned, on December 23.
Merkel praised the development during the online event, declaring, “The fact that, in this extraordinary global situation, an mRNA vaccine like this is coming to the market so quickly is the result of the wonderful individual achievement of researchers, but also of our approach.”
A number of countries have begun distributing the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, with people in the UK, Canada, and Saudi Arabia already being inoculated. Meanwhile, China has already given its home-developed Sinovac jab to around a million of its citizens and, earlier this month, Russia started vaccinating the public with Sputnik V.