Washington D.C., USA, Wed. Mar. 17, 2021– All Caribbean and Latin American countries have fully put in place the measures that are required of nations which would like to receive vaccines through the COVAX facility, yet there has been a delay in the transfer of vaccines to these countries.
Of all the countries in the Caribbean, Jamaica has been the first and only country to receive vaccines through COVAX. On March 15, it received a total of 14,400 preliminary doses of COVID-19 vaccines to minimize the risk of transmission of COVID-19.
Latin American countries like Peru, Columbia, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras have also received their initial doses of COVID-19 vaccines; while countries like Paraguay are yet to begin vaccinations.
The deployment of vaccines has been relatively slow in the region of the Americas. The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) has been working with manufacturers and countries in which these manufacturers are located to expedite the process of distributing vaccines. Many countries are now waiting to receive a supply of vaccines, which will only be sent to them after a joint decision is made regarding the most viable means of delivering vaccines to any given country.
Vaccine manufacturers are currently tasked with meeting the exponentially growing demand for vaccines. Despite their efforts, manufacturers are still facing difficulties in trying to satisfy the demand. Director of the Pan American Health Organization, Dr. Carissa Ettiene, said, “We are happy that vaccines through COVAX are being delivered, but we recognize that the need for more vaccines and sooner is great in the Americas.” She continued, “This is a bottleneck that still prevents us from getting vaccines to every country at the same time.”
According to PAHO, empirical data shows that March and April will not be easy months for vaccine distribution. It is expected that vaccines will become more easily accessible in June. Until then, PAHO emphasizes the importance of countries developing a strategic vaccination plan to protect the lives of the most vulnerable groups of people.
Basic public health measures should remain the basis of the pandemic response until vaccination is widespread. This includes physical distancing, hand washing, mask-wearing, avoidance of public spaces, contact tracing, screening, and isolation.