THE first vaccines were given to 420 people in Gibraltar as four more died of the virus on the same weekend.
The arrival of the first Pfizer BioNTech vaccines to Gibraltar on January 9 was greeted with hope by the Chief Minister Fabian Picardo.
The four people who died were all in their elderly years, with three in their 90s and one in their 70s.
Three died of COVID-19 pneumonitis and one of septicaemia, although one also was suffering from cancer.
The Pfizer BioNTech vaccine was flown in by the RAF straight to Gibraltar.
It will be offered to the public at the former Primary Care Centre at Casemates Square which has been prepared for the purpose.
On January 10, the vials were transported by police escort to St Bernard’s Hospital and the Hillside elderly residency.
Health workers at both sites as well as 47 elderly residents received their jabs.
“The arrival of this vaccine is a stunning example of the power of science and a chance for each of us to get inoculated against deadly COVID 19,” said Chief Minster Fabian Picardo.
“I have registered for the vaccine already and I urge everyone to do so.
“In that way it can help us to turn the corner and get Gibraltar and our economy and public finances back on track!”
Safe and free
Samantha Sacramento, Minister for Health and Care was hopeful this could start turning the tide on the pandemic.
“Monday will see the opening of the public vaccination centre in the former Primary Care Centre in Casemates Square.
“It will allow over 500 of our most vulnerable people to be vaccinated per day. I would like to express my thanks to everyone who has worked to make this possible.
“Every injection that we give from tomorrow starts to reduce the likelihood of people in Gibraltar becoming seriously ill or even dying.”
Reservations over the safety of the virus were tackled by the Director of Public Health, Dr Sohail Bhatti.
“This vaccine has been given to millions of people and does not contain any live organisms,” the often unjustly criticised Bhatti said.
“It has been found to be safe and even the initial restrictions about giving it to people with severe allergies and who are breastfeeding are being progressively relaxed.
“The Pfizer vaccine has produced a superior immune response in people of all ages more quickly than any other COVID-19 vaccine.”