The rollout started on Tuesday during a ceremony at Tehran’s Imam Khomeini Hospital, where the COVID-19 vaccine was first administered to Parsa Namaki, the son of Iranian Health Minister Saeed Namaki.
“Today, the vaccination of nurses, doctors and intensive care unit (ICU) staff begins simultaneously at 625 hospitals. Vaccines from other sources will enter the country by the end of [the Persian calendar month of] Bahman,” which falls on February 18, the minister told the event.
“After ICU staff, the vaccinations will gradually expand to cover other vulnerable groups. Then, they will be administered to people above 65, those with medical conditions and other target groups so as to eventually provide coverage to more than 70 percent of the population,” he added.
The vaccinations kicked off upon an order by President Hassan Rouhani, who assured the nation that the imported vaccines are safe and reliable.
“The people should feel confident that all the authorities trust the imported vaccines, and [as officials] we are all ready to get our shots in order to build trust,” he said.
Iran imported the Sputnik V vaccine from Russia and plans its joint production with Moscow. The first batch of the Russian vaccine arrived in Tehran last week.
Kianoush Jahanpour, spokesman of Iran’s Food and Drug Organization, said Iran had already received tens of thousands of doses of the Sputnik V vaccine.
They will be administered to 1,000 people per day and the figure will increase exponentially to reach a maximum level, he added.
Iran has also purchased 16.8 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines from COVAX, a multi-agency group dedicated to assuring fair access to vaccines for low- and middle-income countries.
At the same time, Iranian scientists have been working on developing domestic vaccines against the coronavirus, two of which are in the human trial phase.
The first vaccine, named Coviran Barekat, was produced by experts at the Headquarters for Executing the Order of Imam Khomeini.
The second COVID-19 vaccine is a product of the Razi Vaccine and Serum Research Institute. Razi COV-Pars — an mRNA recombinant vaccine — is administered via injection and inhalation.