A report released Wednesday by the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) showed that only one out of five Latin Americans had been vaccinated against COVID-19.
The document also warned of the need to advance in the inoculation process due to the growing presence of the Delta variant.
PAHO Director Carissa Etienne underlined Wednesday during a press conference that the especially contagious Delta variant was already predominant in the American continent and hence the need to continue inoculating in a region where only one in five people has received the vaccine.
Etienne also pointed out that in some countries that figure shrank to less than 5% of the population.
PAHO Deputy Director Jarbas Barbosa also underscored that that no country in the region has 70% of the population vaccinated with the full schedule, and stressed that having 40% or 50% is not enough to contain the transmission of the coronavirus.
Vaccination rates also show a great disparity with countries such as Chile and Uruguay with more than 70% of the population with at least one dose, and others such as Peru, Paraguay and Bolivia, below 30%.
By area, Etienne highlighted that in Central America and the Caribbean cases are on the rise, while in South America they have shown a decline in recent weeks.
Etienne also drew the spotlight on the case of Brazil, where hospital occupancy is at the lowest level since the end of last year.
The organization has also underlined that 95% of COVID-19 hospitalizations occurred in people who have not been vaccinated against the Sars CoV-2 virus.
PAHO's Director of Health Emergencies Ciro Ugarte called on the population to get vaccinated as soon as they have the opportunity, since it can be the difference between life or death. Ugarte added that it was important to continue with sanitary measures such as the use of face masks, hand washing and avoiding social gatherings or crowds.
”It is also widely demonstrated that the vast majority, more than 95% of the cases that occur in hospitals or hospitalizations (for COVID-19), occur in unvaccinated people, he said.
This is an extremely important piece of information to motivate all the people who still have concern, or are waiting for some other opportunity, a better vaccine, that is available, to apply the vaccine that they have available, because that will be, in many cases the difference between life and death,” he added.
Ugarte also explained that in Mexico the Delta variant circulates in 92% of the territory and it does affect young people and children. “In the case of Mexico, the spread of the Delta variant represents more than 92% of the circulating strains in the country. It is of concern because, as we know, it is characterized by greater transmissibility and it also affects younger population groups, including young adults, adolescents and children in higher proportions than the other variants.”
The vaccination of children from 12 to 17 years of age is being currently discussed in Mexico and an announcement is due shortly, Ugarte added.