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The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) continues to partner with member countries having low COVID-19 immunisation coverage, to boost the take-up of vaccines.

PAHO Director, Dr. Carissa Etienne, who notes that there are adequate doses available “to meet demand everywhere in our region”, says the organisation has been collaborating with stakeholders in planning and implementing national vaccine delivery strategies.

“We are working with health ministries, indigenous leaders [and] local authorities in several countries to adapt the successful… strategies from the routine immunisation programme to the COVID-19 vaccination context, so we can quickly deploy and use these doses where they are most needed,” she informed.

These interventions, Dr. Etienne pointed out, include technical support to 23 states, and financial aid to implement vaccination campaigns in Latin American and Caribbean countries.

Additionally, the Director said PAHO is working with new and traditional partners to increase knowledge about COVID-19 vaccines and promote cooperation.

She was speaking during PAHO’s recent COVID-19 digital media briefing.

Dr. Etienne said while 14 countries have already reached the World Health Organization (WHO) goal of fully inoculating 70 per cent of their populations ahead of the June 30 target, and another eight have immunised more than 60 per cent of their residents, “vaccination has slowed or plateaued… in [other] areas”.

“In the Caribbean, fewer than 30 per cent of the population completed their primary series in [four countries, while] across Latin America [three countries] have yet to reach half of their populations,” she indicated.

Dr. Etienne informed that PAHO’s Revolving Fund has, to date, delivered more than 141 million doses in partnership with the WHO’s COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access (COVAX) Facility.

“But we have learnt that supply is just the first step, and that is why PAHO is working closely with countries to provide… support to fill the remaining gaps,” she said.

Dr. Etienne, who maintained that COVID-19 vaccines work and are “very safe”, said “what is required is that we must work to extend the protection that they provide to all populations in the Americas”.

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