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Seniors waiting outside a vaccination center in the city of Puebla. Seniors wait outside a vaccination center in the city of Puebla.

Chaos, crowds and long waits greet opening of Covid vaccinations in Puebla

Over 7 million doses have been administered to date in Mexico

After experiencing long wait times and inconsistent decision-making by health officials, several seniors in Puebla criticized what they said was poor organization of Covid-19 vaccinations in the state capital, which began Monday.

Meanwhile, during the second round of vaccinations on Tuesday, an 82-year-old woman lost consciousness while waiting in line at a vaccination site and was pronounced dead upon arrival at a local hospital. Authorities said she had just managed to pass through the first stage of waiting when she passed out. No official cause of death has yet been given.

According to the newspaper El Universal, chaotic scenes on day 1 began outside the Ciudad Universitaria (University City) vaccination center just before 11:00 a.m. on Monday.

Hundreds if not thousands of seniors were lined up in close proximity in queues formed according to the different appointment times they had been assigned prior to Monday. Noting that people were not observing social distancing protocols, authorities began granting access to the vaccination center regardless of appointment times, El Universal said.

The decision triggered complaints that seniors with disabilities or illnesses should have been given priority.

Miguel Camacho, who arrived at Ciudad Universitaria at 10:45 a.m. for his 11:30 a.m. appointment, said he had to stand in line for about four hours, a wait made even more difficult due to recent surgery.

“I told a man that I had a gallbladder operation a few months ago, but he told me that it didn’t matter, that I had to wait,” he said.

Camacho and his wife weren’t vaccinated until almost five hours after arriving. They left the vaccination center tired, stressed and hungry, El Universal said, noting that they were only able to have a quick snack at a nearby store while a woman saved their spot in the line.

“Terrible organization,” Camacho said bluntly.

Many other seniors were forced to wait hours outside in the sun and then again inside the vaccination center in order to receive a dose of the SinoVac vaccine on offer in the Puebla capital.

“The organization was very bad,” said 67-year-old Rafael Hernández, who left the vaccination center more than four hours after his scheduled appointment time of 11:30 a.m. It was senseless to set an appointment schedule and then not follow it, he said, adding that there was little empathy from the vaccination center workers.

vaccination lineup
Authorities lost control of the situation,’ said one senior.

Alberto Sánchez got a shot on Monday but left the vaccination center a cranky man, El Universal said.

“I was under the sun for about three hours,” he said, saying that authorities had lost control of the situation.

“We hope that it won’t be the same for the second dose,” said Hernández.

In other Covid vaccination news:

Vaccination began Tuesday in three Mexico City boroughs and will commence Friday in two more.

  • Authorities are aiming to vaccinate a total of almost 340,000 seniors in Benito Juárez, Cuauhtémoc and Álvaro Obregón this week. People aged 60 and over with surnames beginning with A, B and C were eligible for vaccination Tuesday. AstraZeneca shots will be administered Wednesday to seniors with last names beginning with D, E, F and G. Those surnames beginning with H, I, J, K, L and M are eligible on Thursday. The rollout extends to those with surnames beginning with N, Ñ, O, P, Q and R on Friday and to seniors with last names starting with S, T, U, V, W, X, Y and Z on Saturday.
  • The vaccination program in the boroughs of Gustavo A. Madero and Iztapalapa will begin Friday, where the Sputnik V vaccine will be used. The same five-day schedule based on the first letter of seniors’ last names will apply, meaning that people with surnames beginning with A, B and C will be eligible for a shot on the first day of the rollout — Friday — and others will be eligible on one of the subsequent days. Authorities expect to administer almost 520,000 vaccine shots in the two boroughs, which include some of Mexico City’s poorest and most densely populated areas.

Vaccinations are also taking place this week in seven México state municipalities: Ecatepec, Huixquilucan, Amecameca, Ayapango, Juchitepec, Tepetlixpa and Tlalmanalco.

México state ranks second among Mexico’s 32 states for both coronavirus cases and Covid-19 deaths with more than 232,000 of the former and almost 23,000 of the latter. The capital has been Mexico’s coronavirus epicenter since the start of the pandemic, with more than 600,000 confirmed cases and over 39,000 Covid-19 deaths recorded there as of Monday.

Looking ahead to next week, vaccinations will start in Querétaro city and the Querétaro state municipality of San Juan del Río, which borders both México state and Hidalgo. El Universal reported that they are the only Querétaro municipalities where vaccines have not yet been administered to seniors.

Querétaro Welfare Minister Rocío Peniche Vera said Monday that it was not yet clear which day next week the rollout will start in both municipalities. Some 78,000 vaccine doses have already been administered to seniors in the Bajío region state, but more than 100,000 people aged 60 and over who live in the capital remain unvaccinated.

Just over 7 million vaccine doses have been administered since the first shot was given on December 24. Data presented by the Health Ministry at Monday night’s coronavirus press briefing showed that almost 1.5 million shots have been administered to health workers, of which more than 628,000 were second shots.

About 5.55 million shots have gone to seniors, and just over 40,000 have been administered to teachers. Of the approximately 5.3 million seniors who have received one vaccine dose, only about 205,000 have so far received a second shot.

Mexico has only used two-shot vaccines to date but is expected to begin using the single-shot CanSino vaccine soon. The federal government received 12.33 million more vaccine doses Monday night, including 1.5 million AstraZeneca shots sent by the United States government.

The nation has so far used the Pfizer, AstraZeneca, SinoVac and Sputnik V vaccines to inoculate citizens. According to The New York Times vaccinations tracker, Mexico has administered 5.6 doses per 100 people, and 4.9% of the population have received at least one shot.

Mexico’s accumulated case tally currently stands at just under 2.3 million, while the official Covid-19 death toll is 201,826, although the government has acknowledged that the real number of fatalities attributable to the disease is much higher.

Source: El Universal (sp), Xataka (sp), Eje Central (sp) 

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