Mexico speeds effort to vaccinate elderly against Covid-19

By Eduard Ribas i Admetlla

San Martin de las Piramides, Mexico, Apr 9 (EFE).- The Mexican government is accelerating the process of vaccinating people over 60 against Covid-19 and President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said Friday that all 15 million seniors will have gotten at least one dose before the end of this month.

This nation of 126 million people was one of the first in the world to begin mass inoculation, on Dec. 24, yet the 10.6 million people who have received the vaccine since then represent a little more than 8 percent of the population.

Chile, with 19.2 million people, launched its vaccination program on the same day and has managed to deliver at least one dose to nearly 40 percent of its citizens.

Mexico’s vaccination effort hit a bump this week with the publication of a video showing a nurse injecting someone with an empty syringe.

Even so, a new single-day record for vaccinations was set on Wednesday, with 533,000 shots administered: a glimmer of hope in a country where Covid-19 has claimed 206,000 lives and infected more than 2.2 million people.

Elderly residents of San Martin de las Piramides, a municipality near Mexico City that is home to the famous pyramids of Teotihuacan, reported this week to a giant tent in front of the town hall to be inoculated with the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine.

“It’s moving because it’s something that looked so far away, that was never going to get here and now it’s a reality,” 67-year-old farmer Emilio Andrade told Efe after getting the shot.

Authorities in San Martin, mindful of the rumors circulating on the internet about syringes left empty or filled with water, opted for maximum transparency to reassure doubters.

“The modules are in front of them so they can see how the vaccines are handled. We ask the nurses to show that each dose is full, inject them and throw away the syringe,” municipal official Barbara Ruiz said.

Many of the people waiting to get the vaccine were visibly nervous.

“I’m quite fearful of injections,” Maria Enriqueta Mendoza acknowledged with a smile. She said that she was ready to wear a mask for the rest of her life and skip the vaccination, but finally acceded to the wishes of her family and got the shot.

In parallel with speeding up vaccination, Mexican Foreign Secretary Marcelo Ebrard is preparing to travel to the United States, Russia, China and India in pursuit of more vaccines.

Since December, Mexico has taken delivery of 16.4 million doses of the Pfizer, Sinovac, AstraZeneca, CanSino and Sputnik V vaccines.

Yet millions of additional promised doses have yet to arrive and without more vaccine, Mexico will be unable to start vaccinating people 50 and up in May as planned.

Lopez Obrador said Friday that he would soon have “good news” to share about a prospective vaccine under development in Mexico. EFE


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