MEXICO CITY - Mexico on Monday began the task of vaccinating millions of senior citizens against the coronavirus, with dozens of Mexicans over 60 years old waiting in line for hours because of delays in administering shots.
Mexico began vaccinating healthcare workers in late December, and is starting a second phase for the elderly, even as it waits for more vaccine shipments.
By the end of April, the government aims to have inoculated everyone over 60, or 12% of the population of about 128 million, who are among the most vulnerable to complications from COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus.
But the rollout began slowly in Mexico City. By midday, 75-year-old Elena Diaz had already waited in the sun for three hours and counting for her shot.
Standing outside a public hospital, she said friends and relatives had died from the virus, and she was worried about her exposure to other people in the line.
"I'm very scared of getting infected," she said. "I've taken my paracetamol and tea to look after myself. God willing, nothing has happened to me and nothing will."
Many across the city came with canes, stools and folding chairs. Others arrived in wheelchairs.
Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum apologized for the delays. Some sites did not receive the vaccine until three hours after lines began forming at 8 a.m., the mayor said. By mid-afternoon, the city had given shots to 10,565 people.
Sheinbaum told reporters the government was working to speed up registrations and provide more chairs to people waiting, after complaints that some had nowhere to sit.
A 67-year-old woman was the only person to suffer an allergic reaction to the vaccine; she was now in stable condition in hospital, Sheinbaum said. Another person fainted while in line and was given a wheelchair, she added.
(Reporting by Carlos Jasso; Additional reporting by Lizbeth Diaz and Daina Beth Solomon; editing by Grant McCool)