From Xinhua News Agency, Jan. 4, 2020. Complete text:

Beijing – China is administering COVID-19 vaccines to key groups across the country, with Beijing slated to complete the inoculation for key groups before the Spring Festival, which falls on Feb. 12 this year.

Since the city began administering the jab among specific groups of people with high infection risks on Jan. 1, a total of 73,537 people received the first dose of COVID-19 vaccine at 220 inoculation venues on the first two days.

“I’m glad to receive the vaccine for I’m in charge of cold-chain food transportation. I feel much safer now,” said a vaccinee surnamed Tong at a temporary vaccination site in Beijing’s Chaoyang District.

After this round of inoculation, all the eligible people in Beijing will receive the COVID-19 vaccines as the vaccines receive market approval, along with a gradual increase in vaccine production.

Liu Hong, director of the health service center in Puhuangyu Community, Fengtai District, said the center started reservation for vaccination in different time slots for different groups of recipients to avoid gathering as of Jan. 1.

The whole process lasted less than 10 minutes to reduce the waiting time and avoid cross-infection with other outpatient personnel, Liu said.

On Dec. 15, 2020, China officially launched a vaccination program for this winter-spring period targeting several key groups. These groups include those engaged in the handling of imported cold-chain products, customs officers, medical workers, and people working in public transport and fresh produce markets.

In east China’s Shandong Province, a total of 217,158 doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered to key groups, said the provincial health commission.

As of Sunday [Jan. 3], no serious side effects have been reported among vaccine recipients. Related personnel in port cities are prioritized for inoculation.

According to the commission, frontline customs inspectors involved in the import of frozen goods and loading and transporting personnel working at ports have already received their first vaccine doses.

Roughly 500,000 people in key groups are also receiving Chinese-developed COVID-19 vaccines in north China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, the regional health commission said.

The inoculations began in the region on Dec. 22, 2020. Inner Mongolia plans to complete the inoculation of the first doses of the COVID-19 vaccines for all those in key groups by Tuesday, and the second doses by Feb. 5.

Huhbat, a local resident, was given his first vaccine dose on Monday in the Darhan Muminggan Joint Banner, which borders Mongolia.

“My colleagues and friends who were vaccinated did not feel much. Some experienced slight swelling or pain that soon disappeared,” he said.

A total of 47 inoculation points have been designated in the regional capital Hohhot.

“We administer more than 1,200 doses daily,” said Li Guimei, director of the No. 2 Hospital of Hohhot.

China approved the emergency use of COVID-19 vaccines in June last year, targeting groups with a high risk of infection. By the end of November last year, more than 1.5 million doses of Chinese COVID-19 vaccines had been distributed for emergency use.

A total of 60,000 vaccinated people have traveled abroad to high-risk regions, with no severe adverse reactions reported, according to Zeng Yixin, deputy head of the National Health Commission.

By the end of December last year, the number of vaccine doses among the key groups exceeded 3 million.

“The 3 million vaccine doses plus the previous 1.5 million doses fully prove that Chinese vaccines are safe,” Zeng noted. China announced on Dec. 31, 2020, that it had granted conditional marketing authorization to its first self-developed COVID-19 vaccine. The inactivated vaccine got approval from the National Medical Products Administration. It was developed by the Beijing Biological Products Institute Co., Ltd. under the China National Biotec Group, affiliated with Sinopharm.