COVID-19 vaccinations in Colombia start on February 17. We look at the planed vaccination rollout schedule in Colombia in a bid to achieve herd immunity.

Colombia received it’s first shipment of 50,000 vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech on February 15. The arrival of the first batch of coronavirus vaccine was welcomed to Colombia by President Iván Duque, vice-President Marta Lucia Pamírez and a delegation of government officials in charge of implementing the National Vaccine Program.

The Ministry of Health expects to have 1.1 million doses of vaccine by the end of the month, of which large population centers will receive at least 48 percent. From the initial shipment, Bogotá gets 12,582 doses (25 percent); Antioquia 6,570 (13 percent), and Valle del Cauca (Cali) 5,184 (10 percent).

According to El Tiempo, on the weekend another 192,000 doses of the Sinovac vaccine will arrive in Colombia.  Colombia plans to have at least 1 million of the most at-risk people vaccinated against coronavirus by the end of March.

Colombia, a country with a population of about 50 million people, hopes to vaccinate some 35 million people in 2021.

Colombia acquired 20 million vaccine doses for 10 million Colombians through COVAX. COVAX was organized by the World Health Organization (WHO) with a goal of building manufacturing capabilities, and buying supply, ahead of time so that 2 billion doses can be fairly distributed worldwide by the end of 2021.

Colombia also purchased another 41.5 million doses in other deals for 25.25 million people. So, Colombia has vaccination deals for about 61.5 million doses enabling 35.25 million people to be vaccinated.

COVID-19 Vaccines Colombia Plans to Use

Total government spending for vaccine acquisition in Colombia now totals 2 trillion pesos (about $560 million USD),

The “National Vaccination Plan” in Colombia now includes five different COVID-19 vaccines:

  1. Pfizer-BioNTech: 10 million doses purchased for 5 million people – two shots per person.
  2. AstraZeneca: 10 million doses for 5 million people – two shots per person.
  3. Janssen (Johnson & Johnson): 9 million doses for 9 million people – single-dose vaccine ad doesn’t require ultra-cold refrigeration, so good for remote locations.
  4. Moderna: 10 million doses for 5 million people – two shots per person.
  5. Sinovac: 2.5 million doses for 1.25 million people – two shots per person.

The first vaccines to be used in Colombia are from Pfizer-BioNTech, which was the first vaccine deal that Colombia announced in December 2020.

Health Minister Fernando Ruiz said in December that Pfizer would deliver 1.7 million vaccine doses in February. But in January Ruiz said a reduced delivery of Pfizer vaccines would arrive in Colombia in February.

According to the Health Minister, all these vaccines “have shown efficacy, all exceed the minimum standard required by the World Health Organization (WHO) for vaccination processes.”

Phases of COVID-19 Vaccinations in Colombia

Colombia plan to roll out COVID-19 vaccinations in five phases, as follows:

  1. Phase 1 – 1,791,366 people – 100 percent of front-line health workers and 100 percent of people over 80 years old (most at risk).
  2. Phase 2 – 7,192,701 people – 100 percent of the population from 60 to 79 years old and 100 percent of second- and third-line health workers.
  3. Phase 3 – 2,950,431 people – Teachers at primary and secondary levels, military and police and those aged 16 to 59 with underlying health issues such as hypertension, diabetes, heart disease and kidney deficiencies.
  4. Phase 4 – 4,910,000 people – 100 percent of institutional caregivers and 100 percent of the population in risk situations.
  5. Phase 5 – 17,490,151 people – the entire population aged 16 to 59 without underlying health issues.

The goal is to vaccinate first those most at risk in Colombia.

Rollout Schedule of COVID-19 Vaccinations in Colombia

According to the Health Ministry the following is the planned vaccination schedule provided in early Febraury with the number of vaccination doses planned per month in Colombia starting on February 17, 2021:

  • February: 337,000 doses
  • March: 3,333,764 doses
  • April: 4,663,843 doses
  • May: 3,939,843 doses
  • June: 7,553,450 doses
  • July: 8,294,941 doses
  • August: 11,258,941 doses
  • September: 5,642,941 doses
  • October: 6,260,116 doses
  • November: 4,934,352 doses
  • December: 3,166,666 doses

According to the Health Minister:

Colombia has the possibility of completing 100% of targeted vaccinations in 2021,” rather than an earlier estimate of 2022, “Bear in mind that 35 million people represent almost the entire population over 16 years of age in Colombia.

How Will this Work?

Vaccinations will mostly through the existing Colombian health system. People registered with EPS insurance will be called to vaccination appointments at their local EPS walk-in clinics. Since the EPS providers already have data, they can schedule people for vaccinations based on their age and health priority and avoid mass gatherings. Anyone who is a foreign resident in Colombia can join an EPS and would be in the system for vaccinations.

Also, some news sites speculated that top-end hospitals and clinics will most likely offer the vaccine for sale at a high cost. However, according to El Colombiano on February 24, the Ministry of Health said that COVID-19 vaccinations are not for sale anywhere in Colombia.

In addition, President Duque previously announced that irregular migrants, which means at least a million Venezuelans, would be excluded from Colombia’s vaccination plan. The Ministry of Health has suggested that the UN and NGOs should assist with irregular migrant vaccinations.

Coronavirus Status in Colombia

Colombia Ministerio de Salud (Ministry of Health) reported the number of coronavirus cases in Colombia on February 17 – a total of 2,207,701 cases (up +5,103 new cases from February 16) with 58,134 deaths.

Also on February 17, Colombia reported 4,523 new recoveries and a total of 2,099,628 recoveries, as of this date. Furthermore, on February 17, Colombia had 43,339 active coronavirus cases.

The first coronavirus case in Colombia was on March 6, 2020 and by February 17 the number of cases had grown to 2,207,701 cases. The following chart shows a running 7-day average of new coronavirus cases in Colombia daily, so you can see the trend of new daily cases for more than the past month.

7-day running average of new daily coronavirus cases in Colombia, data source: Instituto Nacional de Salud, Feb. 17

7-day running average of new daily coronavirus cases in Colombia, data source: Instituto Nacional de Salud, Feb. 17

As of February 17, the rolling 7-day average of new daily cases has now dropped 28 days in a row in Colombia.

We have a separate article updated daily with the current status of coronavirus in Colombia.

Colombia has 23 of the Best Hospitals in Latin America

Colombia has 23 of the Best Hospitals in Latin America

Healthcare in Colombia

Colombia has 24 of the top 58 clinics and hospitals in Latin America, according to a study in late 2019 by América Economia. So, 41 percent of the best hospitals in Latin America are found in Colombia. Nine of these best hospitals in Latin America are located in Medellín and nine are in Bogotá.

In 2017, Colombia had 20 of the top 49 clinics and hospitals in Latin America. And in 2018, Colombia had 23 of the top 58 hospitals. So, the count in 2019 has increased to 24 of the top 58 clinics and hospitals in Latin America for 2019.

In addition, the World Health Organization (WHO) ranks Colombia’s healthcare system as #22 out of 191 countries it ranked. And no other countries in Latin America were ranked higher than Colombia. So, according to WHO, Colombia has the best healthcare system in Latin America.

Also, Colombia’s healthcare system is ranked higher than many wealthier countries like the United States (#37), Germany (#25), Canada (#30) and Australia (#32).

In Colombia, it is possible to have access to world-class healthcare at a fraction of the cost compared to the healthcare costs in North America or Europe. Furthermore, the costs for healthcare in Colombia can be significantly lower than the costs found in the U.S.

Due to having the best healthcare system in Latin America, Colombia is probably better positioned than many other countries in Latin America to handle coronavirus.

Computer generated image of COVID-19, photo by Felipe Esquivel Reed

Computer generated image of COVID-19, photo by Felipe Esquivel Reed

Medellin Guru’s Coronavirus Series

Medellin Guru has a series of articles about the coronavirus pandemic and the impacts in Colombia: Also, these articles are being kept up-to-date, as this is a fast-moving topic:

The Bottom Line: COVID-19 Vaccinations in Colombia Start on February 17

Colombia starts vaccinations on February 17 for people most at risk. Over the next few months, as the most at risk are vaccinated, the number of coronavirus deaths and number of people in ICUs should start to fall in Colombia.

This is good news for Colombia and will be the start of a “light at the end of the tunnel” for coronavirus in Colombia.

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Editor note: updated on February 17, 2021 with information that COVID-19 vaccinations start in Colombia on February 17.

Editors note: update on February 24, 2020 with information that COVID-19 vaccinations are not available for sale anywhere in Colombia.

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