Friday 17 September 2021

Long lines and confusion as Venezuela begins COVID-19 vaccination

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Q24N (Reuters) Hundreds of senior citizens and health workers stood in long lines on Monday to get vaccinated against the coronavirus as part of Venezuela’s inoculation campaign, which has been held up by payment problems and political disputes.

Health workers wait for the people who are going to receive their first dose of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), as senior citizens and health workers are being vaccinated at the hotel Alba Caracas, which was turned into a mass vaccination center, in Caracas, Venezuela May 31, 2021. REUTERS/Leonardo Fernandez Viloria

The government of President Nicolas Maduro for months said it was unable to pay for vaccines due to U.S. sanctions, but last month announced it had come up with the funds to enter the global COVAX program.

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The campaign that officially began over the weekend is using vaccines provided by Russia and China. Reuters data shows that only 1.1% of the population has received at least one vaccine shot so far.

Senior citizens and health workers sign up for their first dose of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), as senior citizens and health workers are being vaccinated at the hotel Alba Caracas, which was turned into a mass vaccination center, in Caracas, Venezuela May 31, 2021. REUTERS/Leonardo Fernandez Viloria

“A little more information is required. We get very confused, which is to be expected due to impatience,” said Luis Gonzalez, 90, a retiree, after receiving his first dose of the Russian Sputnik V vaccine on Monday at the government-owned Hotel Alba in Caracas.

Around 20 cubicles were arranged in a spacious room on the ground floor of the hotel where health authorities expect to administer the first dose to 1,000 people by the end of Monday, said Dr. Rhode Longa, the site coordinator.

A woman argues with a Bolivarian National Guard Soldier, as senior citizens and health workers wait to receive their first dose of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), outside the hotel Alba Caracas which was turned into a mass vaccination center in Caracas, Venezuela May 31, 2021. REUTERS/Leonardo Fernandez Viloria

Two blocks from the hotel, Coromoto Teran, a 47-year-old homemaker, stood in line after learning about the effort via neighbors. But upon reaching the hotel, she was told she did not have the “right to vaccination” because she was neither a health worker nor a senior citizen, the two current target populations.

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A woman receives her first dose of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), as senior citizens and health workers are being vaccinated at the hotel Alba Caracas, which was turned into a mass vaccination center, in Caracas, Venezuela May 31, 2021. REUTERS/Leonardo Fernandez Viloria

The Health Ministry has not offered details on the total number of people it has vaccinated. The Information Ministry did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

Senior citizens and health workers wait to receive their first dose of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), outside the hotel Alba Caracas, which was turned into a mass vaccination center, in Caracas, Venezuela May 31, 2021. REUTERS/Leonardo Fernandez Viloria

Some officials have said vaccines will be provided to those holding the “Fatherland Card,” a government identification system which some say is used to discriminate against government critics. But others said they were able to get vaccinated without it.

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Q24N is an aggregator of news for Latin America. Reports from Mexico to the tip of Chile and Caribbean are sourced for our readers to find all their Latin America news in one place.

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