More than 6 million seniors have now received at least one shot of a Covid-19 vaccine as Mexico’s vaccination program continued to accelerate this week, but there are still more than 9 million people aged 60 and over who have not yet had a jab.
According to the most recent data published by the federal Health Ministry, 6.02 million seniors have received a first vaccine dose, and almost 292,000 have received two.
There are approximately 15.7 million people aged 60 and over, meaning that some 9.7 million seniors were still unvaccinated at the end of March. (The latest vaccination data was published March 31.)
To achieve President López Obrador’s goal of administering at least one vaccine dose to all seniors by the end of April, an average of about 320,000 shots will have to be given each day this month.
The application of more than 300,000 shots per day has seldom been achieved since the government began vaccinating seniors in the middle of February, but authorities demonstrated this week that they do have the capacity to exceed that figure. In fact, more than 467,000 doses were administered to seniors on Wednesday, a new record.
The federal government’s ability to ramp up the vaccination program has been aided by the arrival of more than 4.9 million vaccine doses between March 25 and April 1. That figure accounts for one-third of the almost 14.7 million vaccine doses that have arrived in Mexico since the first shipment landed in December.
The most recent shipment was 1.2 million AstraZeneca shots that arrived in Mexico City from the United States on Thursday. The United States government has now shared more than 2.7 million AstraZeneca doses with Mexico since the two countries struck a deal in mid March.
Additional shipments of Pfizer, SinoVac, CanSino and Sputnik V vaccines have also recently arrived in Mexico.
The government campaign to vaccinate seniors began in rural areas but is now focused on urban areas, including Mexico City, where vaccination is taking place in five boroughs this week.
Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum predicted Thursday that all seniors in the capital will receive their second vaccine dose by June. She said the last seniors to receive their second dose will be those who live in the boroughs of Cuauhtémoc, Benito Juárez and Álvaro Obregón, where first doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine are being administered this week.
Seniors in several México state municipalities, some of which are located in the metropolitan area of greater Mexico City, are also being inoculated this week. Among those who have received shots in Mexico’s most populous state are a number of centenarians, the newspaper Milenio reported.
One was 104-year-old Hermelinda Hernández Cruz, who received her shot in Lerma, a municipality that adjoins the México state capital, Toluca. Hernández, who was accompanied by her daughter — who also qualified for a shot — burst into tears and gave praise to God after receiving her jab.
“Finally, I’m going to see my four children,” she said.
Other states where vaccines have been administered this week include Michoacán, where shots have been given in municipalities such as Pátzcuaro, Los Reyes and Queréndaro. However, authorities there announced that vaccinations would be suspended in the state between Friday and Sunday to avoid increasing mobility over the Easter weekend.
While the national vaccination program has now reached seniors in several large cities, including Guadalajara, Morelia, Puebla and Acapulco, older residents of some smaller towns are still waiting anxiously for a shot.
One such person is Lydio Salinas Morales, a 68-year-old resident of Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca, who has heard nothing about when vaccines might arrive in the Pacific coast resort town.
“I understand that they started in rural areas, but they also sent a lot of doses to the Central Valleys region, where Oaxaca city is. They haven’t sent anything to the coast,” his daughter, Denisse Sanilas, told the newspaper La Razón.
Once all seniors who want a jab have received one, Mexico will still be a long way from reaching herd immunity against Covid-19 as the 15.7 million people aged 60 and over only represent about 12.5% of the total population.
Some health experts estimate that 70% to 90% of the population needs to be inoculated or infected with the virus to reach that level of immunity. For that to occur, a minimum of around 90 million Mexicans would need to have Covid-19 antibodies generated either by infection or inoculation.
According to The New York Times vaccinations tracker, 5.5% of Mexicans are currently vaccinated and 0.7% are fully vaccinated, meaning they have received both required doses of two-shot vaccines.
About 7.85 million vaccine doses have been administered in Mexico, according to the latest available government data, mainly to seniors and health workers.
Meanwhile, Mexico’s accumulated coronavirus case tally rose to 2.24 million on Thursday with 5,381 new cases reported. The official death toll increased by 454 to 203,664, a figure that even the federal government has acknowledged is a significant undercount.
The pandemic continued to wane in March but remains a significant threat, with a daily average of about 5,000 cases and more than 500 Covid-19 deaths reported in the third month of the year.
Health authorities have warned that Mexico is not immune from the possibility of a third wave of the coronavirus and urged citizens to continue observing virus mitigation measures and not gather in large numbers during the Holy Week vacation period.