Colombia to allow private import of COVID-19 vaccine, but shots must be free

BOGOTA, (Reuters) – Colombia will allow private imports of COVID-19 vaccines, the health ministry said yesterday, but the shots must be free for those being vaccinated.

The Andes country plans to immunize about 70% of its 35 million people this year under a free national program and has given about 2.4 million doses since February.

Those who give shots fired privately must comply with government standards and cannot use facilities required by the national program, the health ministry said in a draft decree shared with journalists. “The immunization process carried out with vaccines obtained from private persons must take place at no cost to the beneficiaries of the application,” the decision reads.

Countries including Pakistan and India allow the private purchase of COVID-19 vaccines.

The government has issued warnings about an increase in the number of cases following the Easter holidays and has put in place restrictions based on occupancy rates in intensive care units. To date over 64,000 Colombians have died of coronavirus.