Patrick O’Heffernan, Ajijic, with information from Kerry Watson, Administrator of Chapala Health Network. Mexico should begin receiving the first shipments of the Pfizer vaccine in the third week of December and the first priority group, frontline healthcare workers, will be vaccinated at designated centers in CDMX and Coahuila. The program will be carried out by the military and government health care units.
The Federal government has released its National Plan for Vaccination of Mexico, along with the priority groups in the general public and age-based schedules for shots. The first publicly available shots are expected to be administered in February of next year and continue through March 2022 as needed, according to Hugo López-Gatell, Undersecretary for Prevention and Health Promotion.
“At this moment the vaccine opens a horizon of hope because the it gives us a powerful tool that can be used in combination with other instruments for a more effective control of this epidemic,” he told the media when announcing the National Priority Plan.
Key questions and answers:
What vaccines will Mexico receive? Mexico has contracted to receive 35 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine from the Chinese firm CanSinoBIO, 77.4 million doses from AstraZeneca as well as 35.5 million from Pfizer. The Pfizer vaccine requires two does per patient; the others only one. The federal government will continue to contract with drug makers for additional doses as needed.
Is Jalisco prepared to receive and distribute vaccinations? Jalisco was the first state to start pre-planning and logistical setup for the vaccination program. The governor signed an agreement with the University of Guadalajara to provide the cold-chain (-70F) required for the Pfizer doses. The University is now installing refrigerators and other equipment and personnel to receive, store and distribute doses.
Where will we get shots and will they be free? Hugo López-Gatell said that vaccination centers will be set up and shots will be free. Locally, a logical place for shots is the Centro de Salud which is the INSABI/former Seguro Popular location, but this has not been announced or confirmed. Local medical groups and clinics surveyed by Laguna have no information on when or whether they will receive doses. Few, if any, have the cold-chain equipment needed for the Pfizer vaccine.
How effective are the vaccinations? There are 180 other vaccines in various trials around the world. The Pfizer two-dose regime is reported to be 90-95% effective. The AstroZenea regime has been described as “moderately effective” by the STAT Medical news site and the CanSinoBIO vaccine has been described by the BBC as 86% effective.
What about allergies? Two people in the UK, out of thousands vaccinated, had an adverse reaction, but both had known life-threatening allergies. Disclose any allergies before you are vaccinated; if they are not life-threatening anaphylactic response allergies, it is highly likely you can safely receive the Pfizer does; if not, you can most likely receive the other brands expected to be approved, although you may be held for 2 hours of observation..
What is the priority for shots? López-Gatell released the priority list in the National Plan:
the order of priority of population groups to receive the vaccine is as follows:
- Frontline healthcare workers
- People 80 and over
- People aged 70 to 79
- People from 60 to 69
- People from 50 to 59
- People from 40 to 49
- Population under 40 years
What is the schedule for shots? The first priority group, frontline healthcare workers, will begin receiving vaccinations at the end of December when the doses arrive. The coverage goal of the National Plan is immunity for at least 75% of the population 16 years and older by the end of 2021. To achieve this, the National Plan has established 5 stages for shots:
Stage 1 from December 2020 to February 2021
Stage 2 from February to April 2021
Stage 3 from April to May 2021
Stage 4 from May to June 2021
Stage 5 from June 2021 to March 2022
Who will be in each stage? Can we get appointments? Stages 2 through 5 will take place from February 2021 through March 2022, as shown above. We do not have information on the exact grouping by age in each stage, but expect detailed announcements in January. We also have no information as to whether private clinics and doctor groups will receive doses or if appointments will be available at either public or private locations.
Will Expats be vaccinated, or only Mexicans? The Plan talks about “Mexicans”, but there has been no indication that Expats or non-citizens will be excluded. It makes no sense to exclude Expats, or any resident group, as that would defeat the purpose of stopping the spread of Covid by creating widespread immunity.
After I get a shot, will I have to wear a mask? Yes, you should wear a mask for some time as you could be contagious to others and don’t know it, according to Apoorva Mandavilli, Science and Health writer for the New York Times. She points out that viruses can enter your nose after vaccination and develop there for some time even though your antibodies prevent them from spreading to your body. While in your nose they can still be sneezed out and infect others. Stanford University immunologist Michal Tal warns that, “It’s really going to be critical for (vaccinated people) to know if they have to keep wearing masks, because they could still be contagious.”
Where can we get more information? Laguna will provide information I at http://semanariolaguna.com, and on twitter, Facebook and Instagram as we receive it, and in the weekly print edition, Semanario Laguna. Chapala Health Talk is another excellent source of up to date health information, including reports on Covid and vaccines https://www.facebook.com/groups/ChapalaHealthTalk/announcements.