Moscow began distributing the Sputnik V COVID-19 shot via 70 clinics on Saturday, marking Russia’s first mass vaccination against the disease, the city’s coronavirus task force said.
The Russian-made vaccine would first be made available to doctors and other medical workers, teachers and social workers for their high risk of exposure to the disease.
“Over the first five hours, 5,000 people signed up for the jab – teachers, doctors, social workers, those who are today risking their health and lives the most,” Mayor Sergei Sobyanin wrote on his personal website on Friday.
The Sputnik V vaccine will be administered to people below the age of 60 years. Those with underlying health conditions or a respiratory illness within the past two weeks, as well as pregnant women will be barred from vaccination.
“You are working at an educational institution and have top-priority for the COVID-19 vaccine, free of charge,” read a phone text message received by an elementary school teacher in Moscow.
The Sputnik V vaccine is administered in two injections, with the second dose expected to be given 21 days after the first.
Scientists have raised concerns about the speed at which Russia has worked, giving the regulatory go-ahead for its vaccines and launching mass vaccinations before full trials to test its safety and efficacy had been completed.