TODAY NICARAGUA – Doña Gloria and Doña Mercedes – fictitious names to protect the identity of the Nicaraguans -, aged 66 and 70 respectively, are concerned because 39 days ago they received the first dose of the Russian Sputnik V vaccine and until now they do not know exactly when they will receive their second dose. They are eager to complete the immunization schedule against Covid-19.
The day they reported to the vaccination post at the Elena del Carmen Lau Family and Community Center, in District I of Managua, – July 2 – the health personnel briefly told them to be aware of what was communicated in the official media, that they were going to call them, or that they would wait about two months to get the second dose.
So far three different versions, depending on who they consulted, have been offered. They did not say anything concrete, nothing was clear to them and the uncertain wait began.
“They told us they were going to call us but that is a lie. People who got vaccinated that day were told it would be reported on the news. I asked some nurses (about the application of the second dose) and they told me that they did not know, that we should be attentive to the news, another said that we should wait two months, but the doctor said that they were going to call us,” declared Doña Gloria, who said that she asks her neighbors or requests information from her Sandinista neighbor in case she knows anything new on this subject.
Minsa does not give explanations
The cases of these two Nicaraguans may be the situation of hundreds or thousands of who went to inoculate the first dose of Sputnik V or Covishield at that time. The secrecy of Daniel Ortega’s regime to handle the pandemic, as well as the centralization of the little information it provides – through its official media – regarding this health situation, creates uncertainty among the population.
The Ministry of Health (Minsa) announced on June 2 through the official media that it was extending the application interval between the first and second dose from 21 days to a maximum of 90, justifying itself in a statement shared by the Gamaleya Institute of Russia, where he stated that this increase in time “does not affect the strength of the immune response.”
However, this decision was not explained to the people who came to inoculate the first dose that July 2, or at least, Dona Gloria and Dona Mercedes were not notified.
“I understand that it is 21 days later that the second dose is given, but we have spent more than a month and nothing (since they applied it), after a while we no longer have the effect (of the first dose),” said Doña Mercedes.
When both citizens were asked if they understood the information that the application interval between both doses of Sputnik V is up to 90 days, they answered that they were not very clear and that they did not explain it to them at the time of inoculation, although they had heard about it in the media.
The Minsa does not report how the vaccination process is progressing or the negotiations to acquire new anticovid vaccines. They also do not carry out responsible management of the said process, such as sharing clear, reliable, and truthful information to the population, Nicaraguan doctors say.
“There are many things for a professional and responsible management that are not being fulfilled in Nicaragua. I think that the population has very little to do because it depends on the importation of vaccines. The Covid vaccination program in Nicaragua is a program made for political photos in an election year,” said Álvaro Ramírez, a Nicaraguan epidemiologist based in Ireland.
Doctors in Nicaragua dare not speak out against the Minsa or criticize the regime.
Those in charge of answering the telephone line 132 at the Minsa informed Dona Mercedes this Monday to call between Wednesday and Thursday of this week to inform her if there are vaccines available for the second dose in Managua.
“We still do not have information on the second dose, right now we are starting the day of the first dose with the 45-year-olds. Let’s remember that Sputnik V has a 90-day coverage, but you can call us on Wednesday or Thursday to check how we are with the day, because right now we don’t have a second dose here in Managua,” the Minsa worker informed.
Faced with this news, Doña Mercedes shared that she feels a bit happy because it may be that the inoculation of the second dose of the Russian vaccine is closer, but then she reflected and said: “Let’s see what (those of the Minsa) come up with”.
“The problem is the quantity of vaccines”
The doctors foresee that once the day for the application of the second anticovid dose begins, chaos will be created again by the “molotes” (crowds) of people and the long wait due to the fact that on the same day several groups of people would meet on-demand patients who were vaccinated on different dates.
As no one has a date or appointment, they will arrive without control and everyone will want to complete their scheme, but is the Minsa prepared to supply?
In the opinion of an independent doctor, “the problem is not order” but the lack of vaccines to cover the high demand.
“Since they began to apply the Sputnik V vaccine, different waiting periods have already been fulfilled and when the second component appears, all these people will be crowded,” the doctor on condition of anonymity told La Prensa.
And he added: “The Ministry of Health has extensive experience in the vaccination campaign, this system has the capacity, according to specialists in epidemiology and infectious disease, to vaccinate up to 150 thousand people per day. What is the problem? If this government does not manage vaccines well, requests the appropriate amount, immunity will not be achieved.
Dr. Ramírez (the Nicaraguan doctor in Ireland) also pointed out that it is necessary to have a high quantity of vaccines and an intensive vaccination plan to achieve the goals, that is, to cover the demand; in addition to strengthening the cold chain network to ensure the viability of vaccines “to the last corner of Nicaragua.”
They must keep up with the sanitary measures
The independent doctor stressed, under anonymity, that it is necessary for the population to maintain and even reinforce biosafety measures due to the possible circulation of variants of concern of Covid-19.
The doctor recalled that even if a certain level of immunity is gained with the first dose, this does not mean that he is free from getting sick from the virus.
“The problem here is the need to accelerate and comply with the immunization schedule, because the delta variant is gaining (contagion) strength, it can present with a greater number of cases, even in patients who have completed the vaccination schedule and a lot more in those who have not finished with Sputnik V,” insisted the doctor.
“The secrecy of the information is what is causing the Nicaraguan population to reduce recommendations and individual protection measures, and while there is no massive and intensive vaccination, the only protection measures are social distancing, use of masks, washing of hands and disinfection with alcohol,” added the doctor.
Currently, the health institution is applying the AstraZeneca vaccine to the group of people over 45 years of age and with chronic diseases.
A person who has already received the first dose of this vaccine indicated anonymously that the health personnel did not schedule the appointment for the second dose either, but she told her to wait two months to complete the immunization schedule.