By Ines Amarelo
Mexico City, May 14 (EFE).- Mexicans arriving for a Covid-19 vaccine in this capital come for a shot and find themselves immersed in a party atmosphere.
Encouraged by a group of fitness motivators, some dance energetically to the sounds of the Village People’s 1970s disco hit “Y.M.C.A.” while others are less amused by the idea, but the whole scene is a reminder of how much people in the Aztec nation like to have fun.
“People have really responded because we’re Mexicans at the end of the day. We like parties, being happy. And what’s really important is they want to go get their vaccine now because of the dancing and the attention they receive,” Magdalena Vega, one of the coordinators of the Ponte Pila (Get Moving) program, told Efe.
Mexico City’s government is administering approximately 8,000 doses per day of the vaccine developed by Pfizer-BioNTech at this capital’s Benito Juarez elementary school, a large public educational institution in the Roma district.
Among those arriving there on Thursday was epidemiologist Hugo Lopez-Gatell, Mexico’s deputy health prevention and promotion secretary and coronavirus czar, who showed off some dance moves while awaiting his dose.
A group of around 900 people are tasked with managing every detail at the vaccination centers and ensuring that the crowds heed Covid-19 protective measures.
Those individuals include recipients of sports scholarships through the Ponte Pila program, a Mexico City community health initiative that tours different parts of this capital in a bid to “get people moving.”
“The goal of the program is to motivate sedentary people to become active,” Vega said of the various classes on offer at different venues. “In the program, we have different activities like yoga, taekwondo and aerobic dance.”
But with the onset of the pandemic in late February 2020, Ponte Pila had to move its fitness classes online.
And now that program is contributing to Mexico’s vaccine drive, setting up shop at inoculation centers and motivating and bringing joy to people who have been cooped up in their homes and not getting sufficient exercise.
After vaccinating elderly adults over the age of 60 and educational personnel, the Benito Juarez site now is being used to inoculate people between the ages of 50 and 59 and pregnant women.
One vaccine recipient, 52-year-old Mauricio Miguel Fernandez, wears a face mask reminiscent of the masks used by Mexico’s lucha libre pro wrestlers while energetically moving to the music and following the instructions of the fitness motivators.
“It’s really cool to have some atmosphere and not feel depressed. With this, we see we’re not getting sick and have our whole lives ahead of us,” Fernandez told Efe after receiving his first dose of the Pfizer jab.
For the Ponte Pila personnel, the work is tiring but ultimately gratifying.
“It’s really exciting to see people after they’ve been stuck at home for so long. It’s the first time a lot of people have gone outside, and seeing their happy faces and that they feel alive once again is really nice,” said Ponte Pila sports promoter Guillermo Ballesteros.
Nearly 22 million Covid-19 vaccine doses have been administered nationwide through Thursday.
Mexico to date has registered 2.38 million confirmed coronavirus cases and 219,901 deaths attributed to Covid-19, according to official figures. EFE