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Mexico vows free coronavirus vaccinations, but policy on expats is unclear

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Carlos Rosado van der Gracht
Born in Mérida, Carlos Rosado van der Gracht is a Mexican/Canadian blogger, photographer and adventure expedition leader. He holds degrees in multimedia, philosophy and translation from universities in Mexico, Canada and Norway. Sign up for the Yucatán Roundup, a free newsletter, which delivers the week's top headlines every Monday.
Hugo López Gatell. Photo: Agencies

A national COVID-19 immunization policy was unveiled today when Mexico Health Undersecretary Hugo López Gatell pledged free vaccinations for everyone. 

It was unclear, however, how Mexico’s policy will affect non-citizens

López Gatell spoke Tuesday morning during President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s daily press conference. 

It is still unknown which of the many vaccines being tested and developed around the world will make their way to Mexico, but reports from Los Pinos claim that the first of these will be delivered by Pfizer and BioNtech. 

Federal authorities have been clear in reiterating that even with a successful vaccination program, Mexicans should remain vigilant, wear masks and respect social distancing guidelines — as the arrival of the vaccine does not mean an end to the pandemic. 

In its current form, the vaccination policy seeks to immunize 75% of Mexico’s population over the age of 16 and hopefully slow down and eventually halt the current spike of hospitalizations and deaths the country has experienced over the past months.  

The immunization plan seeks to prioritize medical professionals and the elderly population. The cohorts for each phase of vaccination are those:

  1. medical professionals
  2. 80 and over
  3. between 70 and 79
  4. between 60 and 69
  5. between 50 and 59
  6. between 40 and 49
  7. under 40

The first phase of immunizations begin Thursday and conclude by February 2021, at which time the next group will begin to receive the vaccine.

Concerns remain regarding the distribution of the vaccine, as vaccine manufacturers have set strict specifications regarding the extremely low temperatures at which the doses need to be kept. Furthermore, there is also the worry that a considerable percentage of the population will be skeptical of the vaccine’s safety and refuse inoculation. 

Nonetheless, Mexico’s health authorities have expressed optimism in reaching the goal of near universal immunization across the country by the end of 2021.

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