COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) — Sri Lanka on Friday began inoculating frontline health workers, military troops and police officers against COVID-19 amid warnings about infections among medical workers.
Sri Lanka on Thursday received 500,000 doses of the AstraZeneca-Oxford University vaccine donated by India and manufactured by the Serum Institute of India.
The government says 150,000 frontline health workers and 115,000 selected military and police will be the first recipients.
The Indian Ocean island nation’s regulatory body approved the vaccine last week as doctors were warning that front-line health workers should be quickly inoculated to prevent the medical system from collapsing due to infections among medical staff.
The vaccination takes place at six state-run hospitals in the capital Colombo and suburbs and two hospitals run by the army for four days. The health ministry said it will expand to other parts of the country by next week. The ministry has planned up to 4,000 vaccination centers countrywide.
Most of Sri Lanka’s COVID-19 cases and deaths have occurred since October when clusters centered on a garment factory and a fish market emerged in the capital Colombo and its suburbs. It’s had 61,585 cases with 297 fatalities since March and adds between 300 to 900 new cases every day.