Costa Rica received its first batch of coronavirus vaccines late Wednesday and planned to start vaccinations the following day, joining Mexico among the first Latin American countries to begin mass immunization campaigns.
“Tomorrow the first Costa Ricans will be vaccinated,” President Carlos Alvarado said at a news conference.
“It is positive news for our country because it may be the beginning of the end of this pandemic,” he added.
The Costa Rican leader was at Juan Santamaria airport in the capital San Jose to greet the flight that delivered the first 9,750 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, which arrived at 9:00 pm (0300 GMT on Thursday).
Costa Rica last week announced it had approved the vaccine, though it said at the time a supply would not be available until the first quarter of 2021.
Health workers and the elderly will be the first to receive jabs.
“It is not an immediate end, this will take more time and we have to continue to take care of ourselves,” the president added.
Costa Rica, a country of about five million people, had recorded more than 160,000 coronavirus cases as of Wednesday, with 2,065 deaths.
Like many other countries, its health system is under severe strain with the number of Covid-19 patients.
Elsewhere in Latin America, Mexico will also begin vaccinations on Christmas Eve, using its first batch of 3,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine.
Chile was scheduled to start next week, while Argentina was awaiting delivery of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine.