By Eduard Ribas i Admetlla
Mexico City, Jul 27 (EFE).- Mexico City on Tuesday became one of the first spots in the country to vaccinate people between 18 and 29 years old against Covid-19, those most heavily affected by the third wave of the virus, while the government is insisting that the immunization program is limiting mortality during this renewed outbreak.
“They urged me, for protection because it’s been a long time, very long for everyone and it’s a very complicated situation,” Carlos Aguilar, a recently vaccinated 22-year-old in the capital’s Campo Marte district, told EFE.
For more than a month, Mexico has been suffering through a third wave of infections, a resurgence that is affecting mainly the young, unvaccinated population. People under age 40 represent 45 percent of the new infections.
However, authorities are rejecting decreeing new restrictions and are confident that the progress being made in the vaccination program will avoid the death toll and the hospital collapses that were hallmarks of the second wave in January.
So far, Mexico has experienced 2.75 million Covid-19 cases and 238,000 confirmed deaths, the fourth largest total in the world, although authorities calculate that the true death toll from the virus stands are more than 350,000.
But the government’s top strategist for dealing with the coronavirus, Hugo Lopez-Gatell, said Tuesday at a press conference that mortality in the third wave is 77 percent lower than the first spike in July 2020 and 87 percent lower than during the January 2021 spike thanks to the immunization program.
“Mortality in people at greatest risk, who are the elderly, has been reduced. People at greatest risk were already vaccinated several months ago,” he said.
Mexico, with its population of 126 million, has administered 60.88 million doses of various vaccines and 24 million people have received the complete series of shots in a program that is staggered by age, from the oldest adults down to the youngest members of society.
At his morning press conference, President Andres Manuel Lopez-Obrador downplayed the third wave by saying that young people “are not being hit hard” by Covid-19, providing as an example the case of his son Jesus Ernesto, 14, who recently became infected.
“We were living together because we didn’t know, because teenagers are not being hit hart and I’m already vaccinated and I had no problems, and neither did his mother. We both got vaccinated with AstraZeneca, and that’s proof,” the president said.
Meanwhile, the hospitalization figures continue climbing and already 41 percent of the nation’s general care hospital beds and 31 percent of the intensive care unit beds are occupied, while the states of Durango and Guerrero are on red alert because they’ve exceeded 70 percent capacity.
The Mexican capital, the epicenter of the pandemic in this country, on Tuesday took another step in the vaccination program by starting to inoculate people between 18 and 29, one of the first areas in the country to do so.
In Campo Marte, a military district in the city of Miguel Hidalgo, there was a constant flow of people at the vaccination centers to receive Russia’s Sputnik V, one of the six vaccines authorized for use in Mexico.
While Carlos Aguilar was getting his shot, his girlfriend Rose Domingo, also 22 and a law student, took a photo of him with his cellphone “as a souvenir.”
“I think that although we’re young, many of us (young people) aren’t aware and it’s really important that, in spite of being vaccinated, we keep taking care of ourselves with the awareness that this isn’t a game,” said Domingo after receiving her shot, which she said “didn’t hurt at all.”
Another person who came to be immunized was Enrique Cortado, a 26-year-old publisher, who received his shot wearing a Pikachu costume because, he said, he “loves” Pokemon.
“I didn’t feel anything. I was very nervous and sort of excited,” he confessed as he became the center of attention with lots of people taking pictures of him.
He and others dressed in similar ways all danced to reggaeton music at the vaccine site, following the instructions of a Mexico City government team tasked with entertaining people waiting in line for their shots.
“I hope that they’re all very encouraged and that they really want to come here. I haven’t seen anyone who’s negative about it,” one of the dancers dressed as a panda named Pandemio said.