People wait for the Covid-19 vaccine at an immunization center in Santiago, Chile, on March 16.  Photo: AFP.

Strategy makes the feat of Chilean vaccination


From a severely epidemic zone, Chile now ranks fourth in the world for Covid-19 vaccination thanks to the right strategy and the availability of medical capabilities.

More than a quarter of Chile’s population has received at least one dose of Covid-19 vaccine, a rate that is achieved by only Britain, Israel and the Seychelles Islands. Chileans do not have to wait in long lines or face complicated vaccination registration procedures. Vaccine sentiment, a major hurdle with immunization campaigns in many other countries, is very low in Chile.

Few people could have imagined that the process would be so smooth before Chile launched its vaccination campaign, because Chile was one of the most severe epidemic zones in Latin America. The situation was further mixed with large-scale protests against inequality and calls for constitutional reform.

However, with the right strategy and some key factors, Chile has achieved great success in its immunization efforts.

“I think Chile’s pandemic is certainly not as politicized as it is in America, from wearing a mask to a blockade, and now vaccines. This factor is extremely important, because the current Chilean public opinion is very polarizing, “said Jenny Pribble, associate professor of political science and global research at the University of Richmond, USA.

In the midst of a world scramble for Covid-19 vaccine, Chile did not face a shortage of supplywhich has stalled immunization work in other countries. Chile’s Health Minister Enrique Paris said the country had secured 35 million doses of vaccine to vaccinate all 15 million adults.

People wait for the Covid-19 vaccine at an immunization center in Santiago, Chile, on March 16. Image: AFP.

Not only began negotiations with vaccine companies in April 2020, just a month after the World Health Organization (WHO) declared Covid-19 an epidemic, Chile also “made sure” by signing a contract. with as many manufacturers as possible, before their safety and efficacy data were available, and volunteered to become a vaccine clinical trial site.

Their strategy paid off, with both Pfizer-BioNTech, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson pledging to provide Chile with millions of doses of Covid-19 vaccine. Shipments also come from Chinese biotechnology firm Sinovac, although demand for its products is lower due to a lack of efficiency data.

Experts assess that Chile’s rapid vaccine deployment is not simply based on skillful negotiation and willingness to buy any vaccine on the market. When injecting people started, the campaign has benefited broad coverage of the community health system, with clinics set up even in some of the most remote areas.

Chile is also inherently available Formal national immunization program, helping to distribute flu shots and vaccines to children every year. So the infrastructure for the mass immunization campaign doesn’t have to be built from scratch.

“We have been doing this for a long time,” said Soledad Martinez, assistant professor of public health at the University of Chile.

Having a centralized vaccination system means that every time a new group is eligible for vaccination, the government will keep track of the number of doses needed for each community, and then determine whether to set a point. mass vaccination to meet demand or not.

While Americans typically take hours to book an injection using the online system, Chileans do not need to schedule. Instead, every day the government prepares a certain number of vaccines for a very specific group of people. All people have to do is check their schedule and wait until the date of their injection.

For example, on March 1, 64-year-olds nationwide could be vaccinated. The 63 and 62 year olds are sorted on other days of the week. The same is true for those who work in preschool and primary school between the ages of 36-39.

The fact that people tend to have long-term medical care and stick with local clinics also helps to build confidence in vaccines. “The medical center they regularly visit is also the place where their mothers, grandmothers and grandparents see them,” said Martinez.

Cristobal Rovira Kaltwasser, a political scientist at Diego Portales University, said conspiracy theories about pandemic origins once worried him that Chileans would refuse to vaccinate China, while most of the country’s vaccines. provided by Sinovac. But Kaltwasser was surprised by the fact that few people have hesitated so far.

According to Martinez, some Chileans initially wanted to continue waiting for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. However, many of them were no longer concerned when health officials pointed out that Sinovac also produces flu vaccines that are used across the country.

Chilean officials predict 80% of the population will be fully vaccinated against Covid-19 by June, opening up prospects of becoming one of the first countries to achieve public immunity.

However, The vaccination race is still fraught with difficulties, amid rising rates of nCoV infection as Chile enters winter. This South American country is seeing its worst outbreak in nearly 9 months.

“It was a bittersweet moment. There was light at the end of the tunnel, but at the same time terrible numbers came out,” said Martinez.

According to Associate Professor Pribble, the data released by the Chilean government also contains discrepancies in who received the vaccine. Higher-income communities in the Santiago metropolitan area tend to have higher immunization rates compared to lower income communities.

This disparity could slow Chile’s vaccination campaign slowing as the majority of high-income residents have completed their vaccinations, the focus shifting to low-income and more inaccessible areas.

Inequality in Chile is reflected in the health system. About 80% of the population relies on public clinics, which often face difficulties due to lack of funding. Meanwhile, the richest 20% of the population spend money on private insurance and top health services.

However, the Covid-19 vaccine is distributed through the public health system. Some observers predict a smooth vaccination campaign may only temporarily lift President Sebastian Pinera’s credibility, but its vast influence is likely to increase confidence in the public sector, in terms of government resources.

Juan Pablo Luna, associate professor of political science at the Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile, said the lesson for many people in this country is that they need better and better public services.

“I think this will eventually become a symbol of what people want to see in the country,” said the expert.

Luster (Follow Washington Post)

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