BBC News. I'm John Shay. The European Union has begun a mass vaccination program to protect the 450 million people in the block against the coronavirus. The scale of the campaign means that some countries have called on retired medics to help out while others have loosened rules on who can give the injections. Damien McGuinness has more details. Across Europe, the first groups are now receiving the jab. Individual countries are deciding who goes first. Most are prioritizing the elderly and health workers. In some countries, people started vaccinated ahead of the official rollout as soon as they got the first batches. Here in Germany, a nursing home vaccinated on Saturday. So the first person in Germany to get the vaccine was a 101-year-old woman. In Hungary and Slovakia, some health workers were also vaccinated on Saturday.
Israel is entering a third coronavirus lockdown later today, which is due to last for at least 2 weeks. The Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has set a goal of vaccinating around 150,000 people a day within a week. Sebastian Usher reports. Israelis made use of their last hours before the new lockdown as they packed shopping malls and parks and two big outdoor parties were held in Tel Aviv. The new restrictions will confine them to within 1 kilometer of their homes with all nonessential shops and services closed. Two previous lockdown in April and September brought infections down, but rates have been rising againm, topping 3,000 a day in the past week. Hospitals treating coronavirus in Jerusalem are close to full capacity. There's also concern of a rash of cases of a new coronavirus strain. This is all despite the vaccination rollout having started a week ago.
Polling is underway in presidential and legislative elections in the Central African Republic, where President Faustin-Archange Touadera is seeking a second term in office. The vote has been overshadowed by a rebel offensive and UN peacekeepers are patrolling the streets in the capital Bangui. Kami Lefone of the French news agency AFP in Bangui says there's little optimism about the poll. If you ask anyone here, any experts, any Central African people or any humanitarian maker, they will all tell you that they don't see how this country could change in a positive way. Because all the major issues that were the root of the crisis, when it solved and the election, especially if they are rigged, or if a few people vote, these elections are not gonna change anything.
Ballots are also being cast in the presidential election in Niger, where voters are choosing a successor to Mahamadou Issoufou. He's stepping down after completing the permitted two terms. Handing over power to a democratically elected successor would be the first such peaceful transition in Niger history. The favorite to win is the former interior and Foreign Minister Mohamed Bazoum. This is the latest world news from the BBC.