Who got vaccinated first against SARS-CoV-2?

Hi, I’m Jakub, a software engineer at Datawrapper. Do I hear “We want more corona charts?” Alright then. Let’s get into it!

Covid vaccination will likely be the omnipresent news of the upcoming months. Many European countries already started with its rollout: first the UK at the beginning of December, later the EU member states thanks to a joint purchase from Pfizer-BioNTech, the pharmaceutical company. Other countries, especially in the Balkans, are still waiting for their vaccines to arrive; either via individual deals with Pfizer-BioNTech, via the COVAX program (the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine), from China (the SinoVac vaccine), or from Russia (the Sputnik-V vaccine).

Each country starting a vaccination program had to decide in which order they should vaccinate the population. They all came up with similar schedules that prioritize the vulnerable (elderly people and those with underlying health conditions), medical staff (often health workers treating people with Covid-19), and important members of the government.

Although vaccinations began in parallel — for example, several care home residents and nurses were vaccinated at the same time — one person always had to be the very first. Often presented in big media events, the first vaccinated people became the faces of their country’s campaigns against the pandemic. So who did the respective countries choose for such a role? Let the data speak:


Looking at the map, we can already see some patterns in the data:

  • Only a few countries chose a government official as the first one to be vaccinated.
  • Countries in the east of Europe seem to have preferred medical staff, while countries in the west preferred the vulnerable.
  • As mentioned before, West Balkans remains largely without vaccines.

Here is the same information in a table including links to the sources:

When it comes to the data visualization process, I have decided to show the data in both a map and a table form to provide a quick overview as well as a more detailed perspective. The map makes use of a custom color legend and tooltips with formatted text. The table uses Datawrapper’s flag icons and markdown links features.

That’s it for now. I hope you enjoyed this Weekly Chart. As usual, if you have any questions or notes, feel free to reach out to Datawrapper on Twitter.