Europe launches unprecedented vaccination campaign

From Florence to Frankfurt, Paris to Prague, a cross-border vaccination program of unprecedented scale was launched in Europe on Sunday (December 27).

After European governments were criticized at the start of the coronavirus pandemic for failing to work together, the hope now is that a coordinated response will ensure equal distribution of vaccines across the region - home to 450 million people.

The EU has secured contracts for more than two billion vaccine doses and has set a goal for all adults to be inoculated during 2021.

At the front of the queue in Germany on Sunday was 101-year-old Gertrud Haase who received Berlin's first vaccination at her nursing home.

"It is very dangerous, we hear and read about it, and there are so many people dying in other homes. It is horrible, and that is why it is so good that we can be vaccinated against it. It is a big advantage for all of us who live here."

In Rome, nurse Claudia Alivernini was among three healthcare staff to receive Italy's first shots of a vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech.

She urged other Italians to follow her example, saying "medicine and science are the only means we have".

Surveys suggest there are high levels of hesitancy towards the vaccine in populations across Europe prompting leaders of the 27-nation European Union to promote this as the best chance to get back to something like normal life next year.

While Europe has some of the best-resourced healthcare in the world, the sheer scale of the operation has seen some countries call retired medics back into service while others have loosened rules on who is allowed to give vaccines.

Outside the EU, Britain, Switzerland, and Serbia have already started vaccinating their citizens in recent weeks.

Video Transcript

- From Florence to Frankfurt, Paris to Prague, a cross-border vaccination program of unprecedented scale was launched in Europe on Sunday. After European governments were criticized at the start of the coronavirus pandemic for failing to work together, the hope now is that a coordinated response will ensure equal distribution of vaccines across the region, home to 450 million people.

The EU has secured contracts for more than 2 billion vaccine doses and has set a goal for all adults to be inoculated during 2021. At the front of the queue in Germany on Sunday was 101-year-old Gertrud Haase who received Berlin's first vaccination at her nursing home.

GERTRUD HAASE: [SPEAKING GERMAN]

INTERPRETER: It is very dangerous. We hear and read about it, and there are so many people dying in other homes. It is horrible, and that is why it is so good that we can be vaccinated against it. It is a big advantage for all of us who live here.

- In Rome, nurse Claudia Alivernini was among three health care staff to receive Italy's first shots of a vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech.

CLAUDIA ALIVERNINI: [SPEAKING ITALIAN]

- She urged other Italians to follow her example, saying medicine and science are the only means we have.

CLAUDIA ALIVERNINI: [SPEAKING ITALIAN]

- Surveys suggest there are high levels of hesitancy towards the vaccine in populations across Europe, prompting leaders of the 27-nation European Union to promote this as the best chance to get back to something like normal life next year. While Europe has some of the best resourced health care in the world, the sheer scale of the operation has seen some countries call retired medics back into service while others have loosened rules on who is allowed to give the shots. Outside the EU, Britain, Switzerland, and Serbia have already started vaccinating their citizens in recent weeks.