1.5 million healthcare workers in Latin America and Caribbean fully vaccinated

May 13, 2021
Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) Director, Dr Carissa Etienne

Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) Director, Dr Carissa Etienne, says reports from 18 Latin American and Caribbean member countries indicate that 1.5 million healthcare workers in these territories are now fully vaccinated against the coronavirus (COVID-19).

Etienne, who was addressing PAHO’s COVID-19 digital briefing on Wednesday, said it is imperative that countries make the most of the limited vaccine doses currently available to prioritise the vaccination of this group, which includes 8.4 million nurses.

This, she said, is in light of reports indicating that at least 1.8 million health workers have contracted COVID-19 and that more than 9,000 have succumbed to the virus.

She noted that the rise in hospitalisations has placed significant pressure on regional healthcare workers.

Etienne pointed out that they have been working overtime “and juggling more responsibilities as they manage more patients now than at any other point in the pandemic.”

She said that 80 per cent of regional intensive care units (ICUs) are filled with COVID-19 patients, noting that “the numbers are even more dire in some places.”

“Based on how COVID-19 is spreading, we estimate we will need 20,000 doctors and more than 30,000 nurses to manage the ICU needs of just half of the countries in Latin America and the Caribbean,” she pointed out.

Etienne informed that PAHO has helped to deploy 26 medical teams across 23 member countries to provide specialised care where most needed.

In addition, some 400 Emergency Medical Teams were dispatched and alternative medical care sites established, enabling member countries to expand their capacity with over 14,000 new hospital beds and 1,500 more intensive care beds.

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