Santa Cruz, Bolivia, Feb 25 (efe-epa).- President Luis Arce traveled to Bolivia’s largest city on Thursday to see the Covid-19 vaccine administered to people with underlying health conditions, such as cancer or kidney failure, along with medical personnel who were not inoculated in the first phase of the vaccination effort.
The start of expanded vaccination at the National Center of Tropical Diseases in Santa Cruz came a day after Bolivia received 500,000 doses of the Chinese-made Sinopharm vaccine.
Twenty percent of that consignment was a donation from the Chinese government.
Arce’s administration reserved the country’s first load of vaccines – 20,000 doses of Russia’s Sputnik V – for health workers on the front line of the battle against coronavirus.
Some medical staff who didn’t get the Sputnik V injection received the Sinopharm vaccine on Thursday at San Juan de Dios Hospital in Santa Cruz.
Doses of Sinopharm will be distributed to the four highest-tier hospitals in Santa Cruz province, which has upwards of 86,000 Covid-19 cases, more than a quarter of the national total.
The virus has killed 11,547 people in Bolivia.
The government’s three-stage program to inoculate the population gives priority to people categorized as high-risk, whether because of underlying health problems or their jobs.
First in line for the shot will be Bolivia’s nearly 180,000 health-care workers, an estimated 1.3 million people with chronic illness and the over-60 population, who number around 1.1 million.
Last Friday, members of the Bolivian medical association went on strike to protest the recent approval by the legislature of a Health Emergency Law that the same association had earlier touted as a successful result of its negotiations with the government.
The job action has not affected treatment of Covid-19 patients, but it is limiting access to other medical services.
Bolivia is set to receive 15.2 million doses of several different Covid-19 vaccines over the next three months and the government expects to have vaccinated the entire adult population of roughly 7.5 million by the end of September. EFE