TEHRAN—Iran began its Covid-19 vaccination campaign on Tuesday, starting with front-line medical workers as the government attempts to contain the worst outbreak of the disease in the Middle East.
The first person to receive a jab of the Sputnik V vaccine on state television was the son of the health minister, Saeed Namaki, a move designed to counter public skepticism about the Russian vaccine.
A hundred members of Iran’s medical council in a letter last week to President Hassan Rouhani questioned the efficiency and safety of the Russian vaccine, while the head of the parliament’s health committee said he refused to get the Russian jab. The Sputnik V doses are part of a batch of about 500,000 that will arrive in Iran in February, out of a total purchase of two million doses.
“Given the attacks, we promised to start the vaccination with our own families,” Mr. Namaki said.
Iran expects to vaccinate 70% of its population of more than 80 million, and aims to inoculate about 1.4 million before the end of the Iranian year on March 20 amid global supply constraints. Vaccinations in Iran are free of charge.