Out of a total population of 3 million, it is estimated that 80% of the neighbors of the City of Buenos Aires received both doses of the vaccine against coronavirus. The data is official and arises from the national, free and voluntary strategic plan that is carried out in Buenos Aires. This happens when there are only a few weeks to go to one year from the moment the vaccination campaign started.
Faced with this encouraging percentage, several questions arise. Is it enough to “stop” the possible entry of Ómicron, the variant that worries the world? Is it considered that with this 80% there is “herd immunity”? Is it possible to go even further with vaccination? Is the campaign facing a possible ceiling?
So far, in the City 2,475,681 people completed the two-dose schedule of the vaccine and 2,717,687 have at least one dose.
The Buenos Aires Minister of Health, Fernán Quirós, explained in his report this Thursday that among the 20% who did not complete their vaccination there are children and also adults who have not yet met the time interval that must exist between the first and the second dose. And he calculated that there are 5% anti-vaccines.
Secondly, 139,012 people They have already responded to the call of the Buenos Aires Government and have their third or additional dose, which is applied to those who are over 50 years old and were inoculated with Sinopharm or to those with underlying diseases. What’s more, 85,221 Neighbors received a third dose of reinforcement, intended for those who have 6 months after the application of the second dose.
“At this moment, when 80% of the Buenos Aires population was reached, we must take another step. On the one hand, continue to insist on pediatric vaccination. And also insist with the second doses. Because there can be people hanging, lazy, fearful if the first vaccine caused them some symptoms, and even people who think that with the first dose it is already. We must put the focus of attention on these two groups, because in my experience, I understand that the adult who has not been vaccinated until now, almost a year after the start of the campaign, is very difficult to change his mind. Fortunately, they belong to a small number of anti-vaccine people, “he told Clarion Guillermo Docena, biochemist, immunologist and principal investigator at CONICET.
How to scale vaccination and exceed the current level? One action may be to facilitate family logistics. This is how the City understood it allow brothers and sisters to get vaccinated together. After registration, everyone can attend the first appointment granted to any of the minors of a family. This clearly makes organization easier; In a single trip, the vaccination of all is resolved.
The City seeks to encourage pediatric vaccination.
There are currently 217,000 boys and girls registered: 189,763 have already received first doses of Sinopharm. From them, 107,806 completed the immunization schedule. In the coming days -until Saturday- more than 15,000 shifts will be awarded. And in accordance with the provisions of the Ministry of Health of the Nation, immunosuppressed minors begin to receive an additional dose one month after the second dose.
In the Province of Buenos Aires, the strategy is go to vaccinate schools. To date, more than 500 operations have been carried out in establishments and more than 61,000 doses have been applied. This week there was vaccination in schools in Balcarce, Necochea, San Cayetano, Lobería and Tandil. On the other hand, since Tuesday there is free vaccination from 3 years onwards, in all Buenos Aires vaccinations; and from December 10, second doses also free.
Taking the focus of pediatric vaccination, there are formulas that allow expanding vaccination. In July, when 60% of the total population of the City had at least one dose, the Buenos Aires Ministry of Health authorized spontaneous vaccination in health posts that were placed in the largest villages. Why? It is that in those neighborhoods the percentage of neighbors vaccinated with a dose barely reached 15%. Of the 8 posts that were installed, 6 continue to work.
The health passport option
Another issue that is debated in all jurisdictions is the implementation of a health passport. It was discussed at the last meeting of the Federal Health Council -in which ministers and health officials from all over the country participate- and the idea is that it can function as a new incentive for people to get vaccinated.
The clerk of an optician in Rome shows her health pass. In Argentina, the implementation of a similar system is being analyzed. REUTERS / Guglielmo Mangiapane
The idea would be to require complete immunization to be able to participate in massive events or large gatherings in closed places, such as a theater room.
There are an estimated 7 million unvaccinated people in the country.
“It is an issue that was discussed in the meeting with officials from all over the country, but for us it is very green. We are beginning to discuss it, evaluating and listening to all possible opinions,” they informed Clarion Buenos Aires government sources on Wednesday.
Finally, this Thursday Minister Quirós gave a definition about the health pass: “What we are going to do when the National Government has the regulations, formalize what is already happening in the City today. Because for mass shows, high-volume sporting events and dance venues, it is already mandatory to present the double vaccination certificate ”.
Implementing a health passport would be complex, not only because of the impact it could generate at the level of restrictions, but also because of how to resolve its application and forms of control. One of the common complaints from event organizers and businessmen is that finally the controls end up falling on private parties.
Tucumán is the first province to implement it. It is in force from this Wednesday and is required for mass events, restaurants, clubs, cinemas and gyms.
In France, the health passport was established amid much criticism. But the authorities evaluated that it worked and that it motivated many citizens to get vaccinated. In fact, its use was extended to minors, who from the age of 12 need it even for school visits and excursions. Finally, the passport will remain in force until July 2022.
Is 80% of the vaccinated population enough?
Analía De Cristófano, head of Pediatric Infectology at the Italian Hospital and a member of the Infection Control Committee of that institution, explained to Clarion than with the current percentage of vaccination not enough to stop the virus. While at the national level it reaches 80% based on the total population, at the country level the percentage is the same but in people over 18 years of age.
“The ideal is achieve 90% complete vaccination nationwide. Let’s think that to stop measles you need that level of immunization. Of course, not all viruses are the same, but it is a good parameter. And it is necessary to reach this 90% before winter. I am certainly sorry that there was an initial controversy surrounding the pediatric vaccine. This may have discouraged many families and many pediatricians as well, “De Cristófano said.
Specialists say that 90% of the population must be fully vaccinated nationwide. Photo Rafael Mario Quinteros
“I understand that many families may feel that they are letting their pediatricians down if they ignore them. But today we have a lot of information available, medical professionals are participating in conferences and we have to become aware that this virus is more likely to mutate the less immunized the population is“, evaluated the specialist, who is also a member of SADI (Argentine Society of Infectology).
Precisely the new variant is Ómicron, detected in South Africa, already with a dozen mutations. The World Health Organization (WHO) considers it as “worrying”.
In general terms, specialists warn that it is necessary maintain the care of distancing, ventilation and use of chinstrap, because it is clear that the pandemic did not end. “With a lower percentage of vaccination than the current one, the entry of the Delta variant caught us well. With Ómicron you have to be alert, however we have vaccines available and the only way not to panic and be calm is go get those shots“, concludes Dozen.