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Four Caribbean countries yet to vaccinate 20 per cent of their population


Four Caribbean countries yet to vaccinate 20 per cent of their population
PAHO Director, Dr Carissa Etienne - FP

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Washington, D.C. – Director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), Dr Carissa Etienne said on Wednesday that St Vincent & the Grenadines, St Lucia, Jamaica, and Haiti were among six countries yet to vaccinate 20 per cent of their populations.

Etienne said though the six countries lagged the rest of the area, Latin America and the Caribbean was on track to reach the World Health Organisation COVID-19 vaccination target of 40 per cent before the end of the year.

The PAHO director highlighted that while the overall vaccination rate in Latin America and the Caribbean currently stands at 39 per cent, “in far too many places, coverage is much lower”.

She added that as more vaccine doses are making their way to the region, countries must “make the necessary preparations so these doses can be used as quickly as possible”.

PAHO is working to accelerate vaccine deliveries to Latin America and the Caribbean, including COVAX-procured and donated doses.

In the past few days, PAHO worked to fast-track the delivery of 1.3 million vaccine doses donated by Spain, Germany, Canada, and the United States, which will be used to boost coverage in Honduras, Guyana, Argentina, and Jamaica.

Etienne urged countries to hire and train health workers to ensure vaccines can be administered quickly, and to tackle hesitancy by equipping the health work force at all levels to answer patients’ questions and help them understand the benefits of vaccines.

“To be effective, vaccine campaigns must also be designed around the unique needs of the population,” she said.

Dr. Etienne said that the trajectory of the pandemic remains highly uncertain, but PAHO developed three possible scenarios, which depend on the implementation of public health measures and vaccination coverage.

They are: continued high rates of community transmission due to low vaccination coverage and insufficient public health and social measures; periodic spikes in transmission when public health and social measures slip or vaccine coverage dips; and reduced hospitalisations and deaths due to consistent public health and social measures and high vaccination coverage.

“The actions we take over the next three months will help us save lives, make the most of available supplies and determine our outlook for 2022,” Etienne said.