In addition to concerns about obtaining enough Covid-19 vaccines to inoculate 10 million Ecuadorians, the Ministry of Health suddenly has a new problem: people are not showing up for their shots.
Based on preliminary data, the ministry says about 40 percent of those eligible to receive vaccines, almost all of them older adults, are missing their appointments.
“We are extremely worried about this and hope it doesn’t continue,” says Health Minister Mauro Antonio Falconí. “We didn’t expect it and must immediately work to educate the public about the importance of becoming vaccinated.”
President Lenín Moreno also expressed alarm about the no-shows. “I implore older citizens to go to the health centers for their shots when you are called,” he said in a television interview Tuesday. “Vaccinations are very important for the health of the country and for returning to a condition of normalcy that we all want.”
Moreno added that almost all “front line” health professionals and other essential workers have received vaccinations. “Now is the time in our phase 1 vaccination program for our vulnerable population, especially elders, to protect themselves.”
Falconí said the 40 percent rate of broken appointments may be an “early anomaly” based on only one week of appointments. “We are in the very early stages of the program and it will take some time before we can make an accurate assessment.”
He added that there is good news in the country’s quest for more doses. “We have obtained a commitment from the World Bank for a $150 million long-term loan for the purchase of vaccines and are currently working out the details,” he said. “In addition, there is progress for acquiring vaccines through the [World Health Organization’s] Covax Initiative. In general, the outlook is very good for having most of population, including all vulnerable groups, vaccinated by the end of May.”