Citizens of Nicaragua, which according to the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) ranks among the six countries in the region with the lowest vaccination rates, have been crossing over the border to neighbouring Honduras even on horseback and in rafts to receive a COVID-19 immunizer, it was reported.
Shots from Moderna or Pfizer are reportedly available in Honduras for the desperate Nicaraguans.
We are looking for the vaccine to protect us from the covid-19 that is tremendous in Nicaragua, the 57-year-old Alba García told AFP, after getting off her horse on a muddy road of black, sticky mud.
At least 10,000 people reportedly queued up at the border, 120 km south of Tegucigalpa to cross over to a green tent, where ten nurses applied the Moderna drug to people aged over 12, while pregnant women were given Pfizer's.
García said vaccination in Nicaragua was with a Cuban antidote which does not allow for people to travel to destinations where only drugs recognized by the World Health Organization, WHO are admitted as part of the requirements.
Nicaraguans poured into the border crossings once the news spread that Moderna and Pfizer vaccines were available to foreigners in Honduras. The demand was so high by Monday that thousands crossed on horseback and rafts, after paying 100 lempiras (about four dollars) to Honduran coyotes. Then they would continue on foot or horseback, through the mud, to the vaccination post.
Be obedient, please, everyone who is there will be vaccinated, but stand in line to be able to work well, one of the nurses urged with a megaphone to the despair of the women and men, who gathered in front of the tent.
Vaccination tours are offered In Managua. Packages include transfers to an area near El Guasaule, which include the bus ride plus the horse, bus or raft service for between 25 to 30 US dollars.
Nicaraguans claimed they had to take this solution because the Government of President Daniel Ortega only offered Cuban drugs to children and Russia's Sputnik V to adults and neither drug is yet certified for international travel to most destinations.
The Honduran government announced last week that brigades would be deployed to the border points of El Triunfo (El Guasaule) and La Fraternidad (San Marcos de Colón) to vaccinate Nicaraguans, with 4,000 doses available daily and second shots guaranteed within 28 days.
Nicaragua has reported 16,422 COVID-19 infections and 206 deaths, but independent doctors speak of 30,809 cases and 5,832 deaths. Honduras has detected over 374,000 cases and 10,200 deaths, after having vaccinated about 40% of its population with drugs purchased or donated by the WHO Covax mechanism and some private organizations.