Hundreds of senior residents and health professionals waited in lengthy lines on Monday to get immunized against the coronavirus as part of Venezuela’s immunization program, which has been hampered by funding issues and political squabbles.
For months, President Nicolas Maduro’s administration said it was unable to pay for vaccinations owing to US sanctions, but last month said it had raised the cash to join the worldwide COVAX program.
The vaccinations used in the campaign, which formally began over the weekend, were donated by Russia and China. According to Reuters statistics, barely 1.1 percent of the population has got at least one immunization injection this year.
“A little more information is required. We get very confused, which is to be expected due to impatience,” said Luis Gonzalez, 90, a retiree, after receiving his first dose of the Russian Sputnik V vaccine on Monday at the government-owned Hotel Alba in Caracas.
Around 20 cubicles were arranged in a spacious room on the ground floor of the hotel where health authorities expect to administer the first dose to 1,000 people by the end of Monday, said Dr. Rhode Longa, the site coordinator.
Two blocks from the hotel, Coromoto Teran, a 47-year-old homemaker, stood in line after learning about the effort via neighbors. But upon reaching the hotel, she was told she did not have the “right to vaccination” because she was neither a health worker nor a senior citizen, the two current target populations.
The Health Ministry has not offered details on the total number of people it has vaccinated. The Information Ministry did not immediately reply to a request for comment.
Some officials have said vaccines will be provided to those holding the “Fatherland Card,” a government identification system which some say is used to discriminate against government critics. But others said they were able to get vaccinated without it.