“Of the approximately 140,400 doses of vaccines” that Portugal has received, “more than 66,700 doses have already been distributed” and, by 5.30pm on 5 January, “more than 32,000 doses had already been administered,” said the Minister of Health, Marta Temido.

Asked about the arrival of new consignments of the vaccine and possible delays, the minister said that the health authorities were “always adapting” and said that next week more vaccine against Covid-19 will arrive in Portugal.

“One shipment arrived this Monday (4 January), 79,950, and we have three more consignments in the coming weeks of January still to be defined,” she said.

Marta Temido stressed that Portugal maintains the strategy of administering the second dose of the Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine “21 days after” the first inoculation, noting that “this is what is planned”.

According to the minister, the first phase of vaccination, which covers health professionals and essential services as well as users and staff of nursing homes and long-term care units and patients over 50 years of age and with risk pathologies, is expected to continue “until the end of the first quarter.

“In the second phase, we will move on to other groups and this option wasmade for technical reasons and because we are still managing a number of vaccines that is still relatively limited,” she stressed.

Meanwhile, António Costa has defended not choosing to vaccinate himself as prime minister or the president initially, as has occurred in other countries.

Costa has stated that the criteria established by the technical task force, which defines who will be vaccinated and when in Portugal, should be followed.

“In other countries, there was the idea that they should start with the prime ministers or the presidents to set an example, but from our point of view the option we made was the right one”, said the prime minister, in an interview with Lusa News Agency.

Contrary to what happens in other states, there is a national permnent vaccination plan in Portugal which means that, “even though vaccines are not mandatory”, the Portuguese are being encouraged not “resist to the idea of ??vaccination”, notes António Costa.

“We knew that [the first batch] was for 9,750 doses, thesewere given to professionals considered priority in front-line hospitals which we consider to be an understandable criteria, which responds to an effective need and that it is possible to carry out, as it was”. “For my part, when my turn comes, I will be vaccinated”, he added.

The Prime Minister also considers that the fact that health professionals were the first to be vaccinated “gives everyone enormous confidence”, in addition to that there is “an obvious reason”, that it had to start “by protecting those who can protect us”.

“There is one thing that I am sure of: if I have Covid, I want, when I get to the hospital, to have doctors who are in good health so they can treat me, and not get to a hospital where all doctors are contaminated, so I think that the right path was followed”, he said.

To help promote vaccinations, the Institute of Molecular Medicine (IMM) in Lisbon has launched an information campaign on vaccines against Covid-19, in which four scientists clarify doubts in short videos.

“How was it possible to develop a vaccine for Covid-19 so quickly?”, “Is thevaccine for Covid-19 safe?”, “Will the vaccine for Covid-19 bring normality back to our lives?” and “Should I get vaccinated for Covid-19?” are the questions that IMM researchers Bruno Silva-Santos, Luís Graça, Miguel Prudêncio and Pedro Simas answer.

The four videos - one for each question - will be available on IMM’s social networks.

Justifying the initiative, immunologist Bruno Silva-Santos, deputy director ofIMM, said in a statement that “this project arises from the urgent need to provide credible information on the vaccination for Covid-19, which is now beginning.

“Every day we hear doubts and worries from so many citizens and it is up to us, scientists, to answer with the facts and the clinical data that we have”, stresses, in turn, virologist Pedro Simas.