SANTIAGO, March 16 (Xinhua) -- Chile on Tuesday marked the milestone of having vaccinated more than 5 million people against the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) since a mass vaccination campaign was launched Feb. 3, the Ministry of Health said.
"This achievement is a merit and belongs to all Chileans," Chile's President Sebastian Pinera said at a press conference, after meeting with representatives of the National Immunization Plan to celebrate reaching the goal.
Those first to get vaccinated were healthcare workers, people with medical conditions and older adults.
"Ensuring vaccines for all Chileans has been a difficult task, full of obstacles, but we came through," said Pinera, adding the next phase of mass vaccination will begin March 24 for people between 50 and 59 years of age.
"We are all working tirelessly to fulfill the second commitment we made to Chileans: to vaccinate the entire target population, that is 15 million people in the first half of this year," said the president. The figure represents 80 percent of the total population.
According to the ministry, some 900,782 people in Chile have tested positive for COVID-19 since the onset of the pandemic, and 21,789 have died from the disease.