Czech ministry recommends two-week halt of new COVID-19 vaccinations

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FILE PHOTO: Members of a mobile COVID vaccination team in Prague

PRAGUE (Reuters) - The Czech health ministry has recommended regional health officials halt new COVID-19 vaccinations for the coming two weeks to prioritise second doses due to concern about delivery delays, a ministry spokeswoman said on Wednesday.

The Czech Republic, like other European countries, has complained about cuts and delays in deliveries of vaccines made by the United States' Pfizer and Germany's BioNTech.nL1N2K20MW]

The ministry spokeswoman said the decision was made in view of the number of people requiring the second dose of the Pfizer vaccine and the reduced supply. Regional coordinators remain responsible for assessing the situation in their regions, she said.

"The Health Ministry recommends interrupting first-dose vaccinations and suspending reservations for such vaccinations for 14 days," the spokeswoman said.

The country of 10.7 million has inoculated more than 222,000 people, and over 17,000 have already received a second dose, health ministry data as of Tuesday showed.

The Czech Republic has recorded 956,155 cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic first hit in March.

It has been one of the worst-hit globally, with a high rate of infections during the second wave, and 15,453 deaths so far, straining hospitals.

(Reporting by Jan Lopatka and Jason Hovet, editing by Louise Heavens and Emelia Sithole-Matarise)