Latin America and the Caribbean will vaccinate 40% of its population before the end of the year


The Director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), Carissa F. Etienne, affirmed that Latin America and the Caribbean are on track to reach the WHO goal of vaccinating 40% of its population before the end of the year, without However, six countries have yet to vaccinate 20%. In her weekly press conference, Dr. Etienne also presented three possible scenarios about the future of the pandemic.

Although the vaccination rate in Latin America and the Caribbean is currently 39%, “in too many places the coverage is much lower,” stressed the Director of PAHO. “Six countries in our region have not yet reached 20% of their population: they are Jamaica, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and Haiti in the Caribbean, and Guatemala and Nicaragua in Central America,” he added.

As more doses of vaccines arrive in the region, countries must “make the necessary preparations so that they can be used as soon as possible,” he stressed.

PAHO is working to accelerate the delivery of vaccines in the continent, including the doses purchased by COVAX and those donated. In recent days, the organization worked to expedite shipments of 1.3 million vaccines donated by Germany, Canada, Spain and the United States, which will be used to increase coverage in Argentina, Honduras, Guyana and Jamaica.

The organization is also preparing to receive deliveries from COVAX and from bilateral agreements for Guatemala, Jamaica and Nicaragua.

The Director of PAHO called on countries to recruit and train health workers at all levels to ensure that vaccines can be administered quickly, and to address the doubts of the population by equipping them to answer users’ questions and help them understand the benefits of vaccines.

“To be effective, vaccination campaigns must be designed according to the specific needs of the population,” said Dr. Etienne, citing examples from several countries in the region. Belize, he said, has promoted COVID-19 vaccines in public spaces, such as bus terminals and markets. In Bolivia, small cash transfers have helped incentivize more pregnant women to get vaccinated, and in Brazil, people considered vaccine champions have been key to promoting immunization.

Dr. Etienne stated that the trajectory of the pandemic remains very uncertain, but PAHO has developed three possible scenarios, which depend on the application of public health measures and vaccination coverage:

High and continuous rates of transmission in the community due to low vaccination coverage and insufficient public health and social measures.
Periodic spikes in transmission when public health and social measures fail or vaccination coverage decreases.
Reduction in hospitalizations and deaths due to the application of consistent social and public health measures and high vaccination coverage.

“The measures we take in the next three months will help us save lives, make the most of available supplies, and determine our prospects for 2022,” said the Director of PAHO.

In the last week, the Americas reported more than 1.1 million new cases and just over 24,000 deaths related to COVID-19.

In North America, although cases are declining overall, infections remain high in the Midwest of the United States, Alaska, and the Northwest Territories of Canada.

Infections are declining in most Central American countries, although cases remain high in Belize.

In South America, cases are also declining, with some peaks at the subnational level.

In the Caribbean, cases have increased in the Dominican Republic and Haiti. In Barbados, the number of infections has also increased fivefold in the last month.