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Mexico’s vaccination campaign faces challenges and successes

MEXICO CITY (AP) – The Mexican president on Tuesday slammed criticism of the country’s coronavirus vaccination effort, dismissing two scandals as the work of conservative opponents or ‘cranky old people who growl because they don’t’ don’t like to be vaccinated ”.

Despite some successes – for example, all vaccines are free – there have been problems with the irregular deployment of vaccines in the country, which employs vaccination sites of varying quality and vaccines from half a dozen manufacturers. different.

The first round of vaccinations in Mexico was aimed at health workers, and the current second round is aimed at those over 60 years of age.

An 84-year-old man suffered a heart attack and at least three others passed out after queuing for hours outside a vaccination post in northern Coahuila state, and a man was stuck with an empty needle in another center on the outskirts of Mexico City.

Some wealthier neighborhoods offer well-tested vaccines in shaded vaccination centers with short lines, while older people in other poorer or more remote areas have been forced to queue in the sun for hours or receive less well-documented vaccines.

This posed a problem for a president whose slogan is “the poor first”.

Mexico has obtained more vaccines than many Latin American countries, with around 15 million doses arriving so far and around 9.3 million administered, behind only Brazil and Chile.

But the deployment was also characterized by marked inequalities. Mexico now uses at least six vaccines made by different manufacturers, some of which have published full data on their effectiveness, but others have not.

The government uses two Chinese vaccines, manufactured by Sinovac and Sinopharm, without publishing its own data on their effectiveness.

For example, residents of two of the country’s wealthiest neighborhoods, Las Lomas de Chapultepec and Polanco, received the well-tested and effective Pfizer vaccine. Other poorer neighborhoods received a mixture of Astra Zeneca or Chinese vaccines.

Last week, at a vaccination center in the upper-middle-class Roma neighborhood, the lines were relatively short and volunteers quickly and politely led the elderly into the process, sometimes in less than an hour.

At the city’s Vasconcelos library which serves poor neighborhoods, long queues meandered through a sunny parking lot and spilled onto the street outside. Users reported waiting over two hours for the shots. Both centers used the Astra Zeneca vaccine, which has faced questions in Europe over possible links to blood clots.

Obviously, not all experiences in poor neighborhoods were bad, and not all experiences in wealthier neighborhoods were good. But it appears that reports of one of the incidents angered the president.

Over the weekend, a nurse trainee at the immunization post in suburban Mexico City was filmed pricking an elderly man’s arm with an empty syringe, then quickly removing it, without injecting anything. is.

The nurse’s college and local authorities quickly described it as a simple mistake. They said the volunteer quickly realized what had happened and rectified it by injecting him with the dose he was supposed to receive.

But President Andrés Manuel López Obrador – who sees almost all criticism as an attack from enemies he describes as “the conservatives” – suggested the situation was intended to smear him.

“There are only two explanations: either it was actually a mistake or it was a setup meant to harm us, and I don’t rule that out, due to the coverage that she received, “López Obrador said on Tuesday.

Long waits for vaccinations came to a head in the northern town of Torreon, Coahuila state, last week after National Human Rights Commission Chairman Hugo Morales confirmed that an 84-year-old man suffered a heart attack after waiting. in the sun for three hours to have a photo.

Morales said the commission documented three elderly people who passed out after waiting for hours in the sun at a vaccination center in the same town on March 29.

“Seniors would line up for periods of up to six hours,” Morales said. He said the man who suffered the heart attack was in critical but stable condition.

Although he suggested that federal officials – who run the vaccination program – provide shelter from the sun or water for those in line, Morales said that as of this week, nothing appears have been made to remedy the situation.

“They did absolutely nothing,” he said. “There are no awnings or hydration stations.”

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