(JAMAICA GLEANER) – The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) is reporting that 750 million doses of coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccines have been administered across member countries in Latin America and the Caribbean.
PAHO Director, Dr Carissa Etienne, said that the number represents full vaccination of approximately half of the population in these states.
She said that nearly 3.5 million additional doses of COVID-19 vaccines are slated to arrive in the region this week that will “[help] us reach even more people.”
Assistant Director, Dr Jarbas Barbosa da Silva Jr., noted that the 750 million doses administered include the single-dose Johnson and Johnson vaccine and double-dose vaccines.
Both were speaking during PAHO’s weekly COVID-19 digital media briefing on Wednesday.
Etienne said that despite the number of vaccinations administered, many countries remain far behind in terms of coverage.
“Less than 20 per cent of people have been fully vaccinated in Guatemala, Jamaica, and St Vincent and the Grenadines, and vaccination coverage remains in single digits in Nicaragua and Haiti,” she noted.
Meanwhile, Etienne pointed out that the COVID-19 case count continues to fluctuate across the Americas.
She noted that some of the most populous countries, like the United States, Brazil, and Colombia, are seeing a levelling of new infections after weeks of declining trends.
She said that in Canada, cases and hospitalisations continue to drop, while in the Caribbean, the Dominican Republic and Barbados are reporting a steady rise in new infections.
“The Cayman Islands is experiencing its highest incidence of COVID infections to date, and two-thirds of these cases are among the unvaccinated.
Meanwhile, Trinidad and Tobago is witnessing a sharp rise in COVID deaths as ICU (intensive care unit) beds fill with COVID patients,” she told journalists.
She said that countries across Central and South America are seeing a decline in new infections, except for Bolivia, which continues to experience rising cases.
“It bears repeating that the COVID-19 pandemic is still very active in our region,” Etienne said.
“As we near the holiday season, we remind everyone that it’s up to all of us to keep each other safe by getting vaccinated and following the health measures that have proven effective against the virus, like [physical] distancing and mask wearing,” she added.