Russia started vaccinating people against the corona virus on Saturday.
People in Moscow could get the shot in 70 clinics, with teachers, doctors, medical staff and social workers first in line.
The city’s coronavirus task force confirmed that the Sputnik V vaccine is now being deployed.
“You work at an educational institution and have the highest priority for the free COVID-19 vaccine,” read a phone text message a teacher received early Saturday.
President Vladimir Putin has commissioned a nationwide voluntary vaccination program starting next week.
He said Russia will have produced two million doses of vaccine in the coming days.
The head of the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), Kirill Dmitriev, said in an interview with the BBC on Friday that Russia expects to give the vaccine to about two million
people this month.
“In the first five hours, 5,000 people signed up for the injection teachers, doctors, social workers, the ones most at risk to their health and life today,” Mayor Sergei Sobyanin wrote on his personal website on Friday.
Russia has already vaccinated more than 100,000 high-risk people, Health Minister Mikhail Murashko said earlier this week during a separate presentation to the United Nations on Sputnik V.
One of the first people to sign up for the Moscow rollout, Nadezhda Ragulina, a Moscow clinic administrator, said she wanted the vaccine because she had witnessed many COVID-19 patients.
“This is my decision … Some people in my area also have an experience (with COVID-19),” she said.
“That’s why I want to protect myself, my family members, to obtain immunity,” she told state channel Rossiya-24.
Moscow, a city of about 13 million inhabitants, has been the epicenter of the Russian coronavirus outbreak.
It reported 7,993 new cases Saturday, compared to 6,868 the day before and well above the daily figures of about 700 observed in early September.
The age for those receiving injections is limited to 60. People with certain underlying health conditions, pregnant women, and those who have had respiratory disease in the past two weeks are excluded from vaccination.
Russia has developed two COVID-19 vaccines, Sputnik V, which is supported by the Russian Direct Investment Fund and another developed by Siberia’s Vector Institute, with the final tests for both still to be completed.
Scientists have expressed concern at the speed with which Russia has been working, giving the green light to regulations for its vaccines and launching mass vaccinations before full
the safety and efficacy test was completed.
The Sputnik V vaccine is given in two injections, with the second dose expected to be given 21 days after the first.
The UK is the first major Western power to approve a vaccine for rollout, and the shot will be made available to the most risky countries on Tuesday.
Scientists in Europe and the US seemed to cast some doubt on the regulatory processes in Britain, although the British authorities insist that there were no corners.
Russian Deputy Prime Minister Tatiana Golikova said on Friday that the vaccinees should avoid public places and reduce their intake of drugs and alcohol, which can suppress the immune system, within the first 42 days after the first shot.
Moscow closed all public places, including parks and cafes, with the exception of delivery at the end of March, while police patrolled the streets looking for those breaking the rules.
However, the restrictions were relaxed from mid-June.
Russia as a whole reported 28,782 new infections on Saturday, the highest daily figure, bringing the national total to 2,431,731, the fourth highest in the world.
In October, certain restrictions were reintroduced, such as distance learning for some high school students and a 30% limit on the number of employees allowed into offices.