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How Puerto Rico Became the Most Vaccinated Place in America

2021-10-25T02:01:30.866Z

Puerto Rico has fully vaccinated just over 73% of its 3.3 million residents, according to the United States CDC. That is more than 2.3 million people.



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2:58

(CNN) -

A member of a scientific coalition that advises the government of Puerto Rico on the coronavirus pandemic recently joked about the high rate of covid-19 vaccination on the island, attributing it to the proliferation of pharmacy chains in the territory. .

"There's a Walgreens like on every corner," said Rafael Irizzary, professor of biostatistics at Harvard's TH Chan School of Public Health.

"Wherever you go, they have everything you need. Ron. Coffee. You get your fireworks and then you go for a shot."

Irizzary was only half joking about vaccination rates and the more than 100 Walgreens outlets in Puerto Rico.

The Caribbean island - which in recent years has been hit by deadly hurricanes, rocked by earthquakes, beset by political instability and burdened by debt - has managed to quietly outperform even the New England states with the highest vaccination rates in the world. country.

"All these emergencies and the collective trauma prepared Puerto Rico and the leaders, the scientific community and the health community," said Daniel Colón Ramos, professor at the Yale School of Medicine who chairs the coalition on the coronavirus that advises the government .

"There was a sense of urgency. A lot of people I've worked with their attitude was like, 'Not on my guard. Not again.'

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Puerto Rico: 73% of its population is fully vaccinated

Puerto Rico has fully vaccinated just over 73% of its 3.3 million residents, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

That is more than 2.3 million people.

The island has the highest rate of total vaccine doses administered, with 154,563 per 100,000 people.

As of Friday, it had administered 4.9 million doses, according to the CDC.

In the continental country, Vermont leads, with 70.8% of the population fully vaccinated, followed by Connecticut, with 70.2%, and Maine, with 70%, according to the CDC, which added that something more than 57% of the total US population was fully vaccinated as of Friday.

Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of the School of Public Health at Brown University, wrote on Twitter that Puerto Rico's "fabulous" vaccination efforts have "received very little attention."

When folks think about highly vaccinated places in America

They think Vermont or CT or MA

Those places are good

But not the most vaccinated place in America

So who's # 1?

Puerto Rico!

But PR has gotten way too little attention

Its worth reflecting on how they did it

Thread

- Ashish K. Jha, MD, MPH (@ashishkjha) October 17, 2021

"The best I can say is that they have largely succeeded by not linking vaccines to politics," Jha wrote last weekend.

"They pay less attention to the politics of the country. All of their political parties actively support vaccines. And in general, politics (identity) and vaccines don't mix."

Jha pointed out that Puerto Rico is not only poor compared to much of the mainland country, but also has a population greater than that of 21 states.

It is about "5 times larger" than Vermont, he wrote.

The island's poverty rate was around 43% in 2018, compared to 13% nationally and more than double Mississippi's 19.7%, according to the US Census Bureau.

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"Many lives saved"

Seniors receive covid-19 vaccines at a National Guard vaccination center in San Juan, on February 8, 2021.

"It represents many lives saved," Colón Ramos said of the success of vaccination on the island.

"It's really about the fact that there are hundreds of people - if not thousands - right now walking somewhere in Puerto Rico and they wouldn't be there if it weren't for these efforts."

Dr. Iris Cardona, chief medical officer for the island's Health Department, attributed the success to the teamwork of the scientific community, the private sector, government agencies, medical schools and associations, the National Guard, and religious leaders. and municipal.

"It's a collaborative exercise," said Cardona, who oversees the vaccination program.

"Given the difficulties that everyone knows that Puerto Rico has endured in the last five years - hurricanes, earthquakes, political and fiscal crisis - the Puerto Rican people at all levels have cooperated."

That cooperation has included both vaccine education programs and vaccination events.

Throughout the pandemic, the island's government has implemented closures and other restrictions, issued mask and vaccination mandates, and put in place strict indoor dining and social distancing rules, according to members of the Covid-19 coalition. 19.

"In the cultural context of Puerto Rico, social distancing is not something that is easy for us as Puerto Ricans: we want to be close," said Colón Ramos.

"But people have managed very well to get around that."

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"A coherent message ... based on scientific evidence"

While some states have fiercely resisted COVID-19 restrictions and vaccination mandates, the US territory has not.

"Right now the legislature is controlled by one party, the government is controlled by another party, but despite those differences ... wanting to save lives during the pandemic was never politicized in Puerto Rico," said Colón Ramos.

"Difficult decisions were made and criticized," he said.

"But, for example, the mask mandates were never politicized. The importance of vaccination never became a political issue. It helped send a coherent message that was based on scientific evidence."

In Puerto Rico, at least 151,245 confirmed cases of covid-19 and 3,219 deaths have been registered during the pandemic, according to the island's Department of Health.

Connecticut, which is roughly the same size as Puerto Rico, has had more than 400,000 COVID-19 cases and 8,721 deaths.

Dr. Victor Ramos, a pediatrician and president of the island's Association of Physicians and Surgeons, said the National Guard established mass vaccination centers in shopping malls across the island.

There were door-to-door vaccination events in remote rural towns, where vaccines were administered at home, particularly to the elderly and bedridden.

"We will go where it is necessary to vaccinate people," Ramos said.

"After (the hurricane) Maria, many people took refuge in remote villages and we had to go out to help them. Now we are doing the same with the vaccine."

Puerto Rico

Source: cnnespanol

All news articles on 2021-10-25

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