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Mexico’s vaccine campaign faces problems, successes




Mexico’s first round of vaccinations targeted health care workers and the current second round is for those over 60 years old.

An 84-year-old man suffered a heart attack and at least three others fainted after waiting in line for hours outside a vaccination station in the northern state of Coahuila, and a man was stuck with an empty needle in a center next to the outskirts of Mexico City.

Some affluent neighborhoods offer well-tested vaccines at short-range shady vaccine centers, while seniors in other, poorer or more remote areas are forced to stand in line in the baking sun for hours or so. receive less documented vaccines.

This has posed a problem for a president whose slogan is poor.

Mexico has received more vaccines than many Latin American nations, with about 15 million doses received so far and about 9.3 million administered, behind Brazil and Chile.

But the extent is also characterized by pronounced inequalities. Mexico is now using at least six vaccines made by different manufacturers, some of which have released full data on their effectiveness, but others have not.

The government is using two Chinese vaccines, made by Sinovac and Sinopharm, without releasing its data on their effectiveness.

For example, residents of the two richest neighborhoods of the country, Las Lomas de Chapultepec and Polanco, received the well-tested and effective Pfizer vaccine. Other, poorer neighborhoods received a mixture of AstraZeneca or Chinese vaccines.

Last week at a vaccination center in the middle-class Roma neighborhood, the lines were relatively short and volunteers quickly and politely drove the elderly through the process, sometimes in less than an hour.

At the Vasconcelos library of cities serving in slums, long lines passed through a sun-protected parking lot and spilled into the street outside. Users reported waiting more than two hours for shots. Both centers used the AstraZeneca vaccine, which has raised questions in Europe about possible links to blood clots.

Clearly, not all experiences in slums were bad, nor were those in richer neighborhoods all good. But reports of any of the incidents seemed to infuriate the presidents.

Over the weekend, a trainee nurse at a vaccination station on the outskirts of Mexico City was filmed hitting an elderly man in the arm with an empty syringe and then pulling him away quickly, without injecting anything.

The University of Nurses and local authorities quickly describe it as a simple mistake. They said the volunteer realized what had happened and corrected it by injecting him with the dose he was supposed to take.

But President Andrs Manuel Lpez Obrador who sees almost any criticism as an attack by enemies he describes as conservative suggested the situation was planned to tarnish it.

There are only two explanations: either it was actually a mistake, or that it was an organization intended to harm us, and I do not rule it out, because of the coverage it received, Lpez Obrador said on Tuesday.

Long waits to be vaccinated came to a head in the northern city of Torreon, in the state of Coahuila, last week after the president of the state commission of Human Rights, Hugo Morales, confirmed that an 84-year-old suffered a heart attack after waiting in sun for three hours to take a shot.

Morales said the commission documented three elderly people who fainted after waiting for hours in the sun at a vaccination center in the same city on March 29th.

Older people were waiting in line for periods of up to six hours, Morales said. He said the man who suffered the heart attack was in critical but stable condition.

Despite suggesting to the federal authorities running the vaccine program that they provide shelter against the sun or water for those in line, Morales said that as of this week, nothing seems to have been done to address the situation.

They have done absolutely nothing, he said. No tent, no hydration stations.

To a large extent, the vaccination campaign reflects previous trends in the Lpez Obradors administration, such as its irritation in the face of criticism.

The president entrusted most of the vaccination logistics to the armed forces, something he has done with most of his major projects since taking office in late 2018.

The president has also set aside the private sector, which makes up the bulk of Mexico’s health care, in favor of the government handling all vaccination efforts so far, even when private hospitals or drugstore chains may be better equipped and determined to treat some of the vaccines.

Lpez Obrador is a staunch fan of big government solutions in much of the economy, a trend that has put him in conflict with private companies in the energy and construction sectors.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, transmitted, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

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