Pedestrians wearing masks are seen in downtown Tehran, Iran, Feb. 23, 2020. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Sunday issued an order to form a national headquarters to cope with the outbreak of the novel coronavirus in the country, state TV reported. Since Iran announced the first batch cases of the coronavirus in the country on Wednesday, 43 Iranians have been confirmed infected by the virus, eight of whom have died. (Photo by Ahmad Halabisaz/Xinhua)
Pedestrians wearing masks are seen in downtown Tehran, Iran, Feb. 23, 2020. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Sunday issued an order to form a national headquarters to cope with the outbreak of the novel coronavirus in the country, state TV reported. Since Iran announced the first batch cases of the coronavirus in the country on Wednesday, 43 Iranians have been confirmed infected by the virus, eight of whom have died. (Photo by Ahmad Halabisaz/Xinhua) Since Iran announced the first batch cases of the coronavirus in the country on Wednesday, 43 Iranians have been confirmed infected by the virus, eight of whom have died. (Photo by Ahmad Halabisaz/Xinhua)

Some officials in the administration of the south-western Iranian city of Abadan pushed their way to the front of the Covid-19 vaccination programme, prompting criticism on Saturday.

They were given vaccines that were originally intended for refuse collection workers.

Health Minister Saeed Namaki reacted indignantly and demanded immediate dismissals and legal action against all officials involved in the scandal, according to media reports on Saturday.

According to the reports, some high-ranking officials even dressed like rubbish collection workers to get the jab. The municipality argues that the officials only wanted to make the employees less fearful of the vaccination.

Vaccinations are off to a slow start in Iran, a country of 83 million that is in an economic crisis because of US sanctions. That is why only 2 million doses of vaccine have been imported from China, Russia and India so far.

For the time being, priority for vaccination is given to doctors, nursing staff, people in care homes and refuse collection workers.

On Friday, 6 million doses of Sputnik V were ordered from Russia, but it is unclear when they will arrive in Iran. It is also unclear when the locally developed vaccines, which are still in the testing phase, can be used.

Mass vaccinations are scheduled to begin in mid-September.

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