The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) is reporting that 1.2 billion doses of coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccines have, to date, been administered in member countries.
Assistant Director, Dr. Jarbas Barbosa da Silva Jr., says consequent on this, 46 per cent of the population of Latin America and the Caribbean had been fully vaccinated.
He noted that at least 32 countries have already reached the World Health Organization’s (WHO) target of 40 per cent vaccination coverage, adding that several more are on track to reach or surpass this figure by year-end.
“This progress is encouraging but not surprising, thanks to our region’s strong immunization systems,” Dr. Barbosa added.
He was speaking during PAHO’s COVID-19 digital media briefing on Wednesday (November 3).
Dr. Barbosa said, however, that several regional countries are still experiencing challenges with their vaccination campaigns, noting that 19 remain below the 40 per cent target.
He advised that PAHO is working closely with these countries, among them Jamaica, Haiti, Nicaragua, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Guatemala, which he pointed out “are still below 20 per cent coverage”.
Noting that vaccine inequity “remains the biggest barrier to reaching our coverage targets”, Dr. Barbosa said the WHO’s COVID-19 Vaccine Global Access (COVAX) Facility, with the support of PAHO’s Revolving Fund, has delivered 64.3 million doses across the region.
He indicated that over 19 million doses, representing approximately 30 per cent of the vaccines, were donated by the governments of the United States, Canada, and Spain, among others.
“We are thankful for these donations, which have improved the situation in the Americas. We continue to expect allocations of vaccines from COVAX to accelerate in the coming weeks,” the Assistant Director further stated.
Against this background, Dr. Barbosa encouraged countries to monitor their absorptive capacity and continue to scale-up vaccination campaigns.
“PAHO is providing technical cooperation to our member states in all relevant aspects to guarantee successful vaccination,” he informed.
These inputs, Dr. Barbosa further indicated, cover communication strategies, training health care workers, adopting new strategies to facilitate the access of the population, and cold chain capacity.
“We are also supporting countries to overcome supply problems with syringes and diluents. That means we must make investments in immunization capacity and staffing a top priority. Our investments today will pave the way for a strong recovery after the pandemic,” he emphasised.