COVID-19 Vaccinations in Colombia Start on February 17 - Medellin Guru
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.

COVID-19 Vaccinations in Colombia Start on February 17

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 received 12,582 doses (25 percent); Antioquia 6,570 (13 percent), and Valle del Cauca (Cali) 5,184 (10 percent).

According to El Tiempo, another 192,000 doses of the Sinovac vaccine arrived next 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.

On March 6, El Colombiano reported that Colombia received 958,000 doses of the Sinovac vaccine and by March 8, Colombia had received a total of over 2 million vaccine doses as follows:

  • 1,697,880 Sinovac doses
  • 200,000 Pfizer doses
  • 117,000 Pfizer doses (via COVAX)

In early March 2021, Colombia reportedly had completed vaccinations of front-line health workers and started vaccinations of people over 80 years old (most at risk) – phase 1 of its vaccination plan.

By May 4, 2021, Colombia reported that it has completed 5,387, 246 vaccination doses administered and 1,859,657 second doses.

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 aged 80 years old or older (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. And on May 4, the population aged 50 to 59 was added to this group
  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 49 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 March 7 – a total of 2,276,656 cases (up +3,411 new cases from March 6) with 60,503 deaths.

Also on March 7, Colombia reported 4,781 new recoveries and a total of 2,177,199 recoveries, as of this date. Furthermore, on March 7, Colombia had 31,706 active coronavirus cases.

The first coronavirus case in Colombia was on March 6, 2020 and by March 7, 2021 the number of cases had grown to 2,276,656 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, Mar. 7

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

As of March 7, the rolling 7-day average of new daily cases has now dropped 42 days out of the past 46 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.

Sign up for the Free Medellin Guru Newsletter – You can see all of the previous Medellin Guru weekly email newsletters and sign up here.

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

Editors note: updated on February 24, 2021 with information that COVID-19 vaccinations are not available for sale anywhere in Colombia.

Editors note: updated on March 8, 2021 with information that on March 8, Colombia had received a total of over 2 million COVID-19 vaccination doses.

Editors note: updated on May 4, 2021, with information that phase 3 of vaccinations in Colombia now includes ages 50-59 and added information about how many vaccination doses have been administered.

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20 thoughts on “COVID-19 Vaccinations in Colombia Start on February 17”

    1. Jeff can you give me contact information for renting an apartment for the month for around $350-$400 a month in Medellin

    2. Alain letort February 19, 2021

      Hi, Jeff ! I apologize to for troubling you a second time in a week. Although I live in Washington, D.C., I have a dear French friend who moved to Medellín with her grown son a few years ago — he just set up a French pastry shop in one of the shopping centers there — and she seems to have problems finding her way around and dealing with the bureaucracy there. I think the fact that she suffers from a debilitating disease may be impeding her efforts to settle in.

      My friend doesn’t speak English, so I can’t recommend to her that she contact you directly. She is worried because she thinks that as a foreigner in Colombia she probably isn’t eligible for a covid-19 vaccination there, but I saw on your website that there exist organizations called “EPS” that are charged with vaccinating people, including non-Colombians. What exactly is an EPS ? What is the procedure for registering with one ? What papers does one need ? Any information you are able to share with me would be very much appreciated, and I would pass it on to this French lady.

      Many thanks,

      Washington, D.C.

      • EPS is Entidadas Promotoras de Salud, which is the public health insurance that is required for everybody who is a resident of Colombia. There are many EPS insurance providers including EPS SURA, Sánitas EPS, Nueva EPS, Coomeva EPS and many others.

    3. hey, thanks for the info. any idea which clinics and/or hospitals in medellin might offer vaccination for commercial clients?

    4. The new website to check on vaccinations is now available as from today.


      I am a bit worried that it does not recognise my cedula de extranjeria details. My Colombian wife and her family can all login with their national cedula details.

      I would be interested to know whether any of Jeff’s followers can login with cedulas de extranjeria or is it just me who can’t? I did renew my cedula just over a month ago but that shouldn’t be the reason as my old details don’t work either.

      • I heard they may be populating MiVacuna with first phase cedulas (over age of 80 and front line health workers). So, if you don’t fall in those categories, won’t be in the system. See the vaccination phases in Colombia in our popular article – https://medellinguru.com/covid-19-vaccinations-in-colombia/

        • I hope that’s the reason but my wife, who is younger than me, does show up.

        • George Saxton February 17, 2021

          I am in the same boat as you. I arrived here with a three year retirement Visa Jan 12 and got my Cedula de Extranjeria a few weeks after that. I am using ExPat Group for the health insurance. I checked the web site as soon as I read about it, and again today. I am not in the system. I suspect because my health insurance has not come through yet. According to their priorities, I should be in the second group as I am over 65 and under 80. I have the ability to get a vaccine in the US but really do not want to to that if I can avoid it. My name has not come up in the system in IL yet either, but I am registered. When I use my information from my Cedula it says Datos no encontrados.

          • George, are you registered with an EPS? If you are, then you SHOULD automatically be registered for the vaccine, even though you may not yet show up on the Mivacuna website. (I don’t remember whether being with an EPS is a prerequisite to getting your type of visa.) If you are relying exclusively on private international medical insurance, then you may need to check how you can register for the vaccine. I have some doubts whether simply having a retirement visa and cedula de extranjeria will automatically get you on the list.

    5. Geoffrey February 3, 2021

      I am nearly certain I already had Covid and survived. I’ve heard that a person wouldn’t be guaranteed immunity. I wonder if I should I get the vaccine. I had no fever and only a little in the way of pulmonary discomfort. But I was utterly exhausted like never before. After about four days I felt completely recovered. Guess I’ll need to ask my “health care professional”.

    6. Michael Murphy February 3, 2021

      I’m in the US. I am not scheduled to arrive in Colombia until sometime during July-Sept. Sorry for any concern I may have caused.

    7. Very helpful article. Thanks. Has the Government given any indication on whether they will go for 12 week gaps between the two doses, like the UK and some other countries? It does allow for more people to get the first dose earlier but it does not appear to have been approved by the manufacturers.

      • Possibly answering my own question. I have just had an email from Aliansalud, which is my EPS (they are only in Bogota). It includes a Q&A document which confirms that the first vaccines received in the country will be Pfizer and that the Pfizer doses will be administered between 21 and 28 days apart.

        It also says this. I had thought that extranjeros are included but maybe this is not certain. I think, and hope, it means foreigners who are not with an EPS but just have private medical insurance.

        “36. Soy extranjero, pero estoy viviendo en Colombia, y tengo mi seguro de viajes y/o póliza de salud, ¿me pueden vacunar?

        El Ministerio de Salud está generando los listados oficiales de los grupos poblacionales objeto de cada fase y priorización, si el gobierno incluye pólizas de salud, dentro de los listados oficiales, podría ser administrado, de lo contrario, no.”

    8. Michael Murphy February 3, 2021

      I just had my second injection and I had no side effects, was not sterilized, was not marked with the sign of the beast, nor is Bill Gates taking to me inside my head. Dear God, please do not let any Colombians be swayed by any conspiracy nonsense to not take this good medicine.

      • How did you get vaccinated in Colombia when the program doesn’t officially start until February 20th? No criticism, I just want to copy what you did. After a year in my room, it is time to have some freedom. Getting the vaccine is key. I am willing to pay to get it. I don’t need to tax the Colombian system, let my free does go to someone who cannot afford to purchase it.

        • He is likely not in Colombia at this time. Over 50 percent of our readers are in the U.S.

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