Georgia received the first batch of COVID-19 doses on March 13, the Ministry of Health reported. The rollout will begin on March 15.
The arrival is 43,200 doses of AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine delivered by COVAX facility, UN-backed vaccine-sharing scheme. The jabs will be delivered first to medical workers, said Health Minister Ekaterine Tikaradze.
Amiran Gamkrelidze, Head of the National Center for Disease Control stated that 82 centers are prepared nationwide to administer the vaccines, free of charge.
“At the first stage, from Monday, rollout begins in 29 facilities in Tbilisi and every regional [municipal] center,” he noted, adding that by the end of the week all 82 immunization stations will be active.
Tamar Giorgadze, a longtime employee of the NCDC, was the first healthcare worker to register for the shot.
“I know this injection is harmless and necessary for us. I call on all my colleagues to receive the shot and set an example for others that we should immunize and save the country from the infection,” she said.
UNICEF, which supported the Georgian Government to procure the COVID-19 shots, said that today’s batch will be utilized as the first doses since 86,400 jabs are expected to be delivered in April, within the recommended interval between the injections.
Through the COVAX facility, Georgia expects overall 129,600 doses of Astrazenece/Oxford jabs and 29,250 doses of Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines. UNICEF noted it will assist in procuring the latter as well, import of which was delayed previously due to Georgia reportedly failing to meet Pfizer’s raised indemnification requirements earlier in March.
Georgia’s vaccination plan entails immunizing approximately 60% of the population over 18 – 1.7 million citizens – by the end of 2021. The Georgian authorities said the necessary costs will range from GEL 64.3 million (USD 19.5 million) to GEL 158.1 million (USD 47.8 million). Deputy Minister Tamar Gabunia said on January 21 that necessary costs to cover 20% of the country’s population were already paid to COVAX.