The Covid-19 vaccination process in Oaxaca this week has been “a disaster,” according to Governor Alejandro Murat, who blamed federal authorities for the problems.
Murat said in a radio interview that the most serious problem was that some seniors lined up for more than 24 hours to receive a vaccine in Oaxaca city.
However, the almost 22,000 doses that arrived in the state on Thursday were insufficient to meet demand and vaccination was canceled in 11 municipalities in the Central Valleys region.
Murat said the state government offered to assist with logistics to avoid having seniors waiting for hours in the sun, including the provision of transportation to vaccination centers in buses, but was told that the mechanisms for the process were already in place.
“It was a disaster. … The chaos was because there wasn’t good planning,” the governor said, adding that the federal Welfare Ministry is responsible for the vaccination process.
“The chain of command is very clear. … The National Health Council decided that the federal government would handle logistics in all states of the republic,” Murat said.
He said the only role health authorities in Oaxaca have played has been to administer the vaccines.
Murat added that he raised the problems during a National Conference of Governors meeting on Thursday at which federal Interior Minister Olga Sánchez was also in attendance. The vaccination problems triggered numerous protests in Oaxaca city and roads were blocked at 10 different locations in the capital.
The vaccination “disaster” also triggered an ugly confrontation between security personnel belonging to Nancy Ortiz, the federal government’s welfare delegate in Oaxaca, and residents of the Central Valleys municipalities where scheduled inoculation was canceled.
Accompanied by the mayor of Santa Lucía del Camino – a municipality that is part of the metropolitan area of Oaxaca city – residents went to Welfare Ministry headquarters in the state capital to protest the cancellation and demand the resignation of Ortiz, who is leading the vaccination program in Oaxaca.
The newspaper Reforma, which published a video of the confrontation, reported that two security guards drew guns when accosted by the protesters.
The residents and Mayor Dante Montaño broke into an outdoor section of the facility and a scuffle with security personnel ensued. Video footage shows Montaño, who led one road blockade against the cancellation of the vaccine shots, in the thick of the tussle.
The residents managed to detain and disarm the security guards and handed them over to state police.
After the confrontation, Ortiz met with officials from the municipalities where vaccination was canceled and assured them that more doses were on their way and that inoculation would commence Friday.
“Peace, integrity and above all the health of the population must always prevail,” she wrote on Twitter.
One of Ortiz’s deputies in Oaxaca is also embroiled in controversy after evidence emerged that she had improperly set aside vaccine doses for Welfare Ministry personnel aged under 60, including so-called servants of the nation who are involved in the delivery of government welfare programs as well as the rollout of the Covid-19 vaccine.
Incriminating screenshots and audio recordings of WhatsApp messages between Aída Valencia Ramírez, Welfare Ministry sub-delegate in the Central Valleys region of Oaxaca, and colleagues began circulating online on Wednesday night, the newspaper El Universal reported. In the messages, Valencia asks her colleagues to let her know if they haven’t yet received a vaccine dose and directs those who haven’t to go to a hospital near Oaxaca city to get a shot.
El Universal said that the date the messages were sent and how many welfare officials aged under 60 were vaccinated is unclear. The vaccination program was extended to seniors on February 15 but has not yet reached younger sectors of the population.
There was an outpouring of anger in January when it was reported that servants of the nation had been inoculated in Jalisco and Guanajuato at a time when the national vaccination program was still in stage 1, meaning that only frontline health workers were eligible.
But Deputy Health Minister Hugo López-Gatell, the government’s pandemic point man, said at the time that the Welfare Ministry employees qualified for early vaccination because they are part of brigades that have been tasked with distributing and administering vaccines.
As of Thursday night, almost 3.8 million vaccine doses had been administered in Mexico, mainly to health workers and seniors.
According to The New York Times vaccinations tracker, Mexico has administered three doses per 100 people compared to 103 in Israel, 37 in the United Kingdom, 33 in Chile, 30 in the United States, 7.3 in Canada and 5.1 in Brazil.