Germany to start first COVID-19 vaccination in elderly homes on December 27

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News conference on COVID-19 pandemic, in Berlin

BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany will begin its first coronavirus vaccinations in care homes for the elderly on Dec. 27, Health Minister Jens Spahn said on Monday.

He welcomed the approval of the vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech by the European Medicines Agency as a milestone in the fight against the pandemic.

"Vaccination is paving the way for us out of the crisis. And we're doing everything we can to take this path as quickly as possible," Spahn said.

The federal government is planning to distribute more than 1.3 million vaccine doses to local health authorities in Germany's 16 federal states by the end of this year, Spahn said.

"In January, at least another 670,000 vaccine doses will be distributed each week," he said.

This means about 4 million vaccine shots should be possible in Germany in the five weeks from Dec. 27 until Jan. 31.

(Reporting by Michael Nienaber, editing by Tom Sims and Giles Elgood)