By Noelia F. Aceituno
Asunción, Jun 12 (EFE).- Paraguay on Saturday dropped its Covid-19 vaccination eligibility to those 55 years and older, with thousands of citizens traveling by car and on foot to the 19 inoculation points throughout the country to receive their dose.
Before dawn, hundreds of Paraguayans were already waiting in their vehicles for the opening of the vaccination center on the Costanera de Asunción, in front of the Paraguay River, in kilometers-long caravans.
After midday, Blanca Leguizamón received her first dose and vaccination card after six hours of waiting in the car with other members of her family.
“I feel a little relieved and liberated,” she told EFE when she left the vaccination center.
At the entrance of the Costanera, still a few kilometers from the vaccination point, Mariana Aquino waited her turn from 7.30 am and was near the end of the queue.
“Saturdays and Sundays is when we can [come]. During the week we have to work. I hope it reaches us all. We all get up early and come with eagerness to get the vaccine. That is [the] only [thing that] can help us to live,” she told EFE while resting outside the vehicle.
After more than a year, and in a country that has accumulated more than 10,500 Covid-19 deaths, these inoculations carry the hope that the pandemic “ends” and “life returns as before,” she added.
In the same caravan, Edgar Duarte was excited to receive his dose.
“It is satisfying that we are accessing the vaccine. Not just anyone can in South America right now and here we are accessing a large group of the Paraguayan population,” he told EFE.
Health authorities estimate that this incorporation of the 55-59 age group will reach 600,000 people, although as of Friday morning, a day before vaccination began, there were only 200,000 registered.
The influx on Saturday, much higher than that observed in previous weeks for higher age ranges, did not surprise the health authorities, who expected this response as the age eligibility dropped and as it was a national holiday.
The director of health surveillance, Guillermo Sequera, told media from the Costanera vaccination center, that this is an age group “where there are more people” and he hoped to reach a daily vaccination record over the weekend.
“Now we are with younger groups where there is more density, more people,” he said.
Sequera added that when at least 30 percent of the population is vaccinated, that will be reflected in the numbers of new cases.
Paraguay has vaccinated some 444,179 people since February, according to the latest data from the Ministry of Health, and aims to immunize about 4.7 million people of the 7 million that make up its population.
The South American country has registered 387,687 infections, 10,561 deaths and 319,572 recoveries since March 2020. EFE