The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) is reporting that more than 1.6 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines have, to date, been administered in member countries.
PAHO Director, Dr. Carissa Etienne, says this has resulted in just over 69 per cent of the region’s population completing immunisation schedules.
Speaking during PAHO’s digital COVID-19 media briefing on Wednesday (June 29), Dr. Etienne said 17 member countries have passed the target of vaccinating 70 per cent of their populations.
These, she informed, include Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Panama, while noting that El Salvador is approaching this goal.
The Director said while 40 states are over the 40 per cent vaccination mark, “we still have 11 countries that have not yet reached the target”.
“I don’t want to diminish the fact that we are doing well in terms of numbers, but I daresay, not well enough. But I think we can’t ignore the fact that we still have 224 million people in our region who have not received a single dose of COVID-19 vaccine,” she further stated.
Dr. Etienne said since March, 27 countries for which PAHO has age-linked vaccination data “have reached a plateau”.
“Our analysis shows that many countries are still not reaching enough of the older adults with vaccines. So, to protect our most vulnerable populations, we have to improve our outreach to older adults, and we need to get them vaccinated against COVID-19,” the Director emphasised.
Dr. Etienne indicated that more than 1.3 million new COVID-19 cases were recorded across the Americas this week and 4,158 deaths.
This, she said, represents a 13.9 per cent increase in cases over the figure one week ago.
The Director pointed out that cases rose in all four sub regions, with North America accounting for 7.7 per cent.
She noted that while Canada is reporting fewer cases, the United States of America and Mexico are “trending in the opposite direction”.
Dr. Etienne also advised that deaths climbed in two sub regions – South America, by 32.8 per cent, and the Caribbean, by 13.3 per cent – adding that “these numbers serve as a stark reminder that too many people are still vulnerable; indeed, there is work to be done to reach all [who] need a vaccine”.
“So, to protect our most vulnerable populations, we have to improve our outreach to older adults, and we need to get them vaccinated against COVID-19. We need to pick up the pace of vaccination to shield populations from the worst consequences of this virus,” she said.
Dr. Etienne emphasised that in the context of evolving patterns of transmission, countries should not lower their guard.
“Let’s reach out to all of our adults in this region and, increasingly, to our adolescents,” she added.