Mexico began vaccinating the elderly in more than 300 municipalities across the country on Monday after receiving approximately 870,000 doses of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine.
The effort was mainly focused on remote rural communities, but hundreds of people over the age of 60 also lined up before dawn in some remote corners of the vast capital, Mexico City, for the opportunity to be vaccinated.
Officials encouraged people not to come all at once, but with shots fired at a first-come, first-served base, the demand was immediate.
The government has designated 1,000 vaccination sites, including schools and health centers, mostly in the country’s poorest communities.
President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said Monday that bad weather and snow had kept the vaccine from reaching isolated areas in northwestern Mexico.
He said the armed forces, which are responsible for logistics for the vaccination campaign, were working to enter those areas.
Mexico began vaccinating health workers in mid-December with about 726,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
In addition to AstraZeneca photos, two million doses of the Chinese CanSino vaccine are being sold in Mexico. Another shipment of the Pfizers vaccine is also expected this week. The Russ Sputnik V vaccine and another from China, which have received emergency approval from Mexican regulators, are also expected later this year.
Lopez Obrador, who tested positive for COVID-19 last month but has since recovered, encouraged seniors to get vaccinated.
There are no risks Rather, it is their protection, he said, adding that the government plans to make the vaccine available to everyone.
It’s for the rich and the poor, it’s for everyone, he said.
Mexico has reported more than 1.9 million cases of COVID-19 and more than 174,000 coronavirus-related deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
The government said it wants everyone over the age of 60 to be vaccinated by mid-April, which would require taking at least one dose in the arms of more than 15 million people in less than two months.
Mexico set up a website for seniors to register for the vaccine, but it experienced technical problems in the early days due to high demand.
While some people being vaccinated Monday in Mexico City had registered on the site and received a text message confirming their timing, officials said the seniors who showed up would not be withdrawing.
Local media reported that dozens of sites were set up in three neighborhoods located on the outskirts of the city, where officials plan to administer nearly 80,000 doses by Friday.
On Sunday, Lopez Obrador said Mexican Olympic athletes would also be considered a priority group for vaccination.
We need to vaccinate them all, he said during a news conference in Oaxaca.
The Tokyo Games are scheduled to start on July 23, and organizers hope that, by then, global vaccination efforts would have stepped up, allowing athletes and visitors to travel to Japan.
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