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Mexico City nurse is first in Latin America to receive COVID vaccine

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Health worker Maria Ramírez is the first to get vaccinated for COVID-19 early Thursday at the General Hospital in Mexico City. The first batches of vaccines produced by Pfizer and its German partner, BioNTech arrived the previous day. Photo: Courtesy

A 59-year-old intensive care nurse in Mexico City was the first person in Latin America to receive an approved coronavirus vaccine.

Maria Irene Ramirez got the injection under the watchful eyes of military personnel who escorted the vaccine shipment.

“This is the best present I could have received in 2020,” said Ramirez. ”The truth is we are afraid, but we have to keep going because someone has to be in the front line of this battle.”

Jumping slightly ahead of its southern neighbors, Mexico began administering 3,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine early Thursday.

Other doctors and nurses rolled up their sleeves in the chill morning air at outside vaccination stations in Toluca and Queretaro. The country’s 1.4 million health workers will be the first to get the shots, followed by the elderly, those with underlying health conditions that make them more vulnerable to the disease, and teachers.

Chile also began its inoculation program later that day when 42-year-old nurse Zulema Riquelme got the first jab as President Sebastián Piñera looked on.

Chile said it had received 10,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine and has a deal for a total of 10 million. Health workers and the elderly will also be first in line.

Argentina, which has run into problems obtaining the Pfizer vaccine, received a flight carrying 300,000 doses of the Russian Sputnik V vaccine.

Argentina plans to become the first country in Latin America to administer the Russian vaccine starting next week. It won’t yet be given to people older than 60 due to a lack of testing data.

Argentine Health Secretary Ginés González García vowed the Russian vaccine was safe and said it could be used on those 60 and older once Russian authorities certify it. He said 5 million more doses were expected to arrive in January.

In Mexico, another 53,000 more doses from Pfizer are due Tuesday, followed by about 1.4 million doses in January and about 11.75 million by mid-year.

Two other vaccines are in Phase 3 studies in Mexico and another three are awaiting approval to start.

Mexico reported over 1.35 test-confirmed cases so far and 120,311 deaths, the fourth-highest toll in the world. However, estimates based on excess deaths this year suggest Mexico’s real death toll is closer to 180,000.

Argentina has 1.5 million cases and over 42,000 deaths, while Chile has seen 590,000 cases and 16,000 deaths.

Source: The Associated Press

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