Mexico's vaccine campaign faces problems, successes

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Maria Castrejon, 71, grimaces as she is vaccinated with a second dose of the Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine at the Americas Cultural Center, in Ecatepec, Mexico, Saturday, April 3, 2021. (AP Photo/Ginnette Riquelme)

MEXICO CITY – Mexico’s president lashed out Tuesday at criticism of the country’s coronavirus vaccination effort, dismissing a pair of scandals as the work of conservative opponents or grumpy “elderly people who go grumbling because they don’t like to be vaccinated.”

Despite some successes — for example, all shots are free — there have been problems with the country’s uneven vaccine roll-out, which employs vaccination sites of varying quality and vaccines from half a dozen different manufacturers.

Mexico’s first round of vaccinations targeted health care workers, and the current second round is for those over 60.

An 84-year-old man suffered a heart attack and at least three others fainted after waiting in line for hours outside one vaccination station in the northern state of Coahuila, and a man was stuck with an empty needle at another center on the outskirts of Mexico City.

Some wealthier neighborhoods offer well-tested vaccines at shady vaccine centers with short lines, while elderly people in other, poorer or more outlying areas have been forced to stand in line in the baking sun for hours or receive less well-documented vaccines.

That has posed a problem for a president whose slogan is “the poor come first.”

Mexico has obtained more vaccines than many Latin American nations, with about 15 million doses arriving so far and about 9.3 million administered, behind only Brazil and Chile.

But the rollout has also been characterized by marked inequalities. Mexico is now using at least six vaccines made by different manufacturers, some of which have released full data on their effectiveness, but others of which haven’t.