Sunday, June 16, 2024

Private-sector health workers claim they’ve been ignored in vaccination program

More than 630,000 Mexican health workers have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19 but some private sector medical personnel say they have been forgotten by the federal government.

Health workers employed in private hospitals and clinics protested in Mexico City last Thursday to demand that they too be given access to the vaccine and protected against the disease which has sickened and killed countless patients they have treated over the past year.

The protest occurred near the Naval Medical School in Coyoacán after word spread on social media that public sector health workers were receiving vaccine shots at the facility on Thursday.

More than 1,000 private sector health workers arrived at the school with the hope that they too would be able to get a shot. Some were inoculated but many more were still in line when an official announced that the supply had run out.

Instead of quietly leaving, the private-sector doctors and nurses staged an impromptu protest on the Eje 3 East thoroughfare, blocking traffic including city buses running along route 5 of the Metrobús system.

The disgruntled medical workers questioned why they have been ignored by the government when they attend directly to Covid-19 patients and are exposed to the risk of infection on a daily basis.

“We’re private [sector] doctors who are demanding the vaccine,” Karla Dam told the broadcaster Televisa.

She explained that she and other private sector health workers arrived at the Naval Medical School after they heard on social media that vaccines were being administered there.

“We arrived here and they gave us hope that we would be vaccinated but in the end they said no,” Dam said.

“They told us there were no vaccines … [and] that seniors are the priority,” said Lourdes Castillo, a private sector anesthetist.

Leobardo Castro, manager of a private clinic in México state, questioned the priorities of the government, which said in January that its vaccination plan considered private sector health workers but failed to explain clearly when they would get their shots.

“We’re risking our lives when we could be protected,” he told the EFE news agency.

“It’s very sad that there are retirees, seniors, teachers and [health] professionals who are not on the front line who are already vaccinated against Covid and that people who work in the private [health] sector and are at risk [of exposure from infected patients] are not,” Castro said.

In light of the protest, Mexico City government official Juan Gutiérrez said that the protesting workers had a “legitimate demand” but noted there were only 500 vaccine doses available at the Naval Medical School event and they were used to inoculate public sector medical personnel.

The Mexico City Health Ministry subsequently said that frontline private sector health workers who went to the facility did receive a vaccine shot later in the day after additional doses arrived.

Xavier Tello, a Mexico City-based health policy analyst, raised concerns about the vaccination of private sector health workers almost three months ago.

In a January 10 article published on the business and careers website LinkedIn, Tello wrote that many private sector doctors and nurses – some of whom lost colleagues to Covid-19 – had asked him the same question: “When will we be vaccinated?”

After noting that the question was valid, the analyst asserted that the government hadn’t provided a clear answer. Almost three months later, some private sector medical personnel continue to ask the same question, and haven’t yet received an unambiguous response.

“… It’s not difficult to understand that private hospital personnel who are exposed to Covid patients have exactly the same risk of infection as staff who work in government institutions. It’s the same virus, with the same danger,” Tello wrote before questioning why all frontline health workers – both private and public – weren’t being prioritized for simultaneous vaccination.

Although there are still health workers who aren’t protected against Covid-19, Mexico’s five-stage vaccination program, which began December 24,  is accelerating after virtually stalling in February due to a lack of supply.

Just over 9 million vaccine doses had been administered by Sunday night, according to Health Ministry data which indicates that the lion’s share has gone to seniors. About 14.67 million vaccine doses made by five different companies including Pfizer, AstraZeneca and SinoVac have arrived in the country, meaning that just over 60% of those received have been used.

Meanwhile, Mexico’s accumulated case tally rose to 2.25 million on Sunday with 1,263 new cases reported and the official Covid-19 death toll increased by 136 to 204,147, a figure that the government acknowledges is a significant undercount.

Source: Infobae (sp) 

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