Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Massive COVID vaccination gets under way as shots approach expiration

Authorities are racing to administer some 3.7 million AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines before they expire at the end of the month.

Large-scale vaccination campaigns are underway or will begin soon in at least 18 states across the country.

Authorities in Mexico City and at least two states – Michoacán and Durango – have announced that second booster shots (a fourth dose in most cases) will be available.

Four large vaccination centers will operate in the capital between April 18 and 30, and almost 200 public healthcare clinics will also be offering shots. Authorities believe as many as 1 million people could receive shots during the 13-day campaign.

Adults, adolescents aged 15 to 17 and younger youths with existing health problems that make them vulnerable to serious illness will be eligible for vaccination. Authorities will even inoculate people who don’t live in Mexico City.

Seniors lined up for a third vaccine dose in Mexico City in late February. To be receive a dose in this month's campaign, their last dose must have been at least four months ago.
Seniors lined up for a third vaccine dose in Mexico City in late February. To be receive a dose in this month’s campaign, their booster must have been at least four months ago.

Mexico City Health Minister Oliva López recommended a fourth shot for seniors with underlying health issues who received their first booster at least four months ago.

Health authorities in Michoacán announced that fourth shots would be available to adults who received their first booster at least four months ago. The state Health Ministry also called on people who have not yet been vaccinated to come forward and get a shot.

In Durango, military personnel confirmed that fourth doses are being administered to those who ask for them, El Sol de México reported.

In Tamaulipas, authorities are aiming to use 545,000 vaccines before they expire on April 30. Shots are being administered at 200 healthcare centers as well as five mass vaccination centers set up in the most populous areas of the northern border state.

The primary objective across the 43 municipalities is to inoculate unvaccinated people and those who didn’t get a second shot after their initial vaccination last year.

Authorities in Guanajuato are aiming to use 591,000 AstraZeneca shots before they expire at the end of the month, while Hidalgo Governor Omar Fayad has set a goal of administering 42,000 doses in the next two weeks. Vaccines are widely available across the latter state, including in tourism destinations that will see an influx of visitors this Easter weekend.

A state official presents the "Better late than never" campaign in Veracruz, which invites unvaccinated residents to get a shot.
A state official presents the “Better late than never” campaign in Veracruz, which invites unvaccinated residents to get a shot. Twitter @MiguelHuertaLdG

In Veracruz, a vaccination campaign operating under the slogan “Better late than never” has commenced. Authorities are hoping to administer some 230,000 shots at 500 temporary vaccination centers set up in parks, shopping centers and near beaches in the Gulf coast state.

In Zacatecas city, a nocturnal vaccination center was set up by the army Wednesday in the historic center, where the 2022 Zacatecas Cultural Festival is in full swing. Mexico City resident Erika de la Cruz was among the tourists who decided to get a shot at the temporary center, which operated into the early hours of Thursday morning.

“It’s something that I never imagined – that I could be vaccinated against COVID just because I was hanging out here in the [city] center, it’s really amazing,” she told the newspaper Milenio.

Among the other states where authorities are trying to boost their vaccination rates with soon-to-expire shots are Jalisco, México state, Baja California Sur, Puebla and Quintana Roo.

Over 194.5 million shots have already been administered in Mexico to almost 85.7 million people, according to the most recent federal Health Ministry data. Over 38 million people have had booster shots.

According to The New York Times vaccinations tracker, Mexico has the 77th highest vaccination rate in the world, with two-thirds of the country’s approximately 126 million people having had at least one shot.

The federal government has not yet offered shots to minors under 15 (with the exception of those aged 12-14 with health problems), but is set to do so soon. The national vaccination rate could increase significantly once shots are offered to kids under 15 as there are almost 32 million children aged 0-14, data from the 2020 census shows.

Mexico, which has the second highest number of Catholics in the world after Brazil, will celebrate Easter amid a much improved coronavirus situation compared to earlier in the year. There are fewer than 5,000 estimated active cases, according to the Health Ministry, compared to a peak of over 300,000 at the height of the omicron-fueled fourth wave in January.

The accumulated case tally currently stands at 5.72 million, while 323,891 people have lost their lives to COVID-19 in Mexico, according to official data that the government has acknowledged underestimates the true toll of the infectious disease.

With reports from Milenio and El Sol de México 

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