In Guatemala, vaccination efforts have been delayed due to a shortage of syringes. In Haiti, logistics and security challenges after the devastating August 14 earthquake helped make it one of the lowest vaccinated countries in the world.
And across the Caribbean, countries are working on unequal dose distribution and vaccine hesitation, World Health Organization officials warned at an online press conference today.
“The key challenges facing the Caribbean-English-speaking and French-speaking countries and territories-are hesitant to vaccinate,” said Dr. Sylvain Aldighieri, Covid-19 Incident Manager, Pan American Health Organization. WHO
“Even if some parts of the Caribbean are leading regional efforts in terms of vaccination rates, vaccine growth is not optimal in most Caribbean countries,” he said.
WHO has set a goal for all countries in the world to vaccinate at least 40% of the population by the end of the year. Of the six countries in the Americas that have not yet reached the 20% threshold, four are in the Caribbean: Haiti, Jamaica, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Saint Lucia. The other two — Nicaragua and Guatemala — are located in Central America.
“In all these countries, the availability of vaccines due to uneven dose distribution was a central issue,” said Dr. Carissa F. Etienne, director of the Pan-American Institution.
But some countries, like the shortage of syringes in Guatemala, “face their own barriers,” she added.
At the same time, Jamaica had to deal with supply delays.
In Haiti, where at least 2,200 people were killed in the August earthquake, less than 1% of the population is fully vaccinated.
“Haiti’s socio-political situation remains tense, which is negatively impacting its vaccination efforts,” said Chiro Ugarte, director of health and emergency services at the Pan-American Institution.
Latin America and the Caribbean will receive vaccines through bilateral agreements with manufacturers, the United Nations-backed Covax program, and donations from overdose countries. National agencies have also signed contracts with China’s Sinopharm and Sinovac, as well as countries to purchase millions of vaccines from AstraZeneca.
What you need to know about Covid-19 booster shots
The FDA has approved booster shots for a specific group of people who received a second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine at least six months ago. The group includes: Pfizer recipients over the age of 65 or living in a long-term care facility. Adults at high risk for severe Covid-19 due to underlying illness. Healthcare workers and other people whose work puts them at risk. People with weakened immunity are eligible for a third dose of Pfizer or Moderna four weeks after the second injection.
Regulators have not yet approved booster shots for Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccine recipients, but the FDA Panel will meet to weigh booster shots for adult recipients of Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines.
The CDC states that the conditions covered by booster shots include: High blood pressure and heart disease. Diabetes or obesity; cancer or blood disorders; weakened immunity; chronic lung, kidney or liver disease; dementia and certain disorders. Pregnant women, current and former smokers are also eligible.
The FDA has approved boosters for workers who work at high risk of being exposed to potentially infected people. According to the CDC, this group includes: Education workers; Food and agriculture workers; Manufacturing workers; Correction workers; US Postal Service workers; Public transport workers; Grocery shop workers.
Not recommended. For now, Pfizer Vaccine Recipients are advised to take Pfizer Booster Shots. Moderna and Johnson & Johnson recipients will have to wait until booster doses from these manufacturers are approved.
Yes. According to the CDC, the Covid vaccine may be given at any time, and many pharmacies allow flu vaccinations to be scheduled at the same time as boosters.
Covid cases have declined in many parts of Latin America and the Caribbean, but have increased on some islands in the Caribbean.
For example, Barbados has reported the most infections and deaths since the pandemic began, said Dr. Etienne, director of the authorities. The Dominican Republic, Haiti, Cayman Islands, Antigua and Barbuda and Anguilla have also reported increased cases.
“In the East Caribbean, medical services have been, or are still, overwhelmed by the influx of patients requiring hospitalization,” said Dr. Ardigieri. He also said the situation was in sharp contrast to last year, when most of the Caribbean island nations were able to largely avoid widespread transmission of the virus.
Despite the hesitation of the vaccine, Dr. Etienne said 39 percent of the Latin American and Caribbean population is fully vaccinated against Covid-19. According to the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, this is significantly higher than in Africa, where less than 5% of the population is fully vaccinated.
However, as more vaccines begin to flow into the region, it is important for the country to “make the necessary preparations for these doses to be used as soon as possible,” Dr. Etienne said.