Vaccination of older adults: when it will extend to more ages and other answers about the process underway

With the extension of vaccination to adults between 65 and 69 years from this Friday, May 21, there will be 1,035,000 more people who will have to receive a dose of the vaccine against COVID-19. If everything goes according to the provisions of the Ministry of Health (Minsa), as of May 31, the group of 60 to 64 years would also join, which are 1,240,000 more people, thus completing the immunization of all older adults.

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Although the age range that begins this Friday implies that the accumulated should reach 3 and a half million protected adults, the stage of 70 years and more is not over yet. Gustavo Rossel, Deputy Minister of Public Health, reported yesterday that 20% of members of this age group have not yet been vaccinated. These are populations that live in remote rural areas or where vaccination has not yet begun. According to Rossel, a special strategy will be implemented for them. The expansion of sectors represents a greater challenge because, as the age decreases, the population to be immunized grows.

These are some common questions about the ongoing process.

1. What if I can’t make it to my scheduled date?

The Minsa has reported that people who could not receive the first or second scheduled dose do not lose their quota. This also applies to older adults whose DNI registers an address from different regions and the foreign population of the age ranges included in the process that does not appear in the programming of the portal consultations.pongoelhombro.gob.pe. In all cases, they should only go to the vaccination centers near their homes with an identity document and a receipt for electricity or water from the place where they reside.

2. When will other age ranges be included?

According to the Minister of Health, Óscar Ugarte, expects to start covering the population aged 50 to 59 years (3.3 million people) from July. Before the Foreign Relations committee in Congress, he said that this will depend on ensuring the arrival of sufficient vaccines. According to Minsa estimates, 10 million doses would arrive by July as part of agreements with Pfizer, AstraZeneca, the Covax Facility initiative and Sinopharm. With this last laboratory, the arrival of 500 thousand doses was expected this month, but now it will be a batch of 1 million that will arrive on a date not yet confirmed.

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As age decreases, population increases. The 50-59 age group is made up of 3.3 million people, 4.4 million from 40 to 49, 5.3 million from 30 to 39, 20 to 29, 5.7 million and 18 to 19 (there are no vaccines for minors of that age) are 900 thousand people.

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3. What happens if I suffer from comorbidities?

Having hypertension, diabetes, obesity, or other comorbidities are not contraindications to getting vaccinated. In fact, it is expected to include soon in the vaccination process people with these conditions who are not older adults. The same happens for people who have immune diseases, such as HIV, cancer, among others.

In case of pregnancy, the Minsa reported last February that it is not a contraindication either, since vaccines can help protect mother and baby.

4. What diseases or conditions are included in the current process?

Since May 11, people with Down syndrome and hemodialysis patients have been vaccinated. This week will include rare and orphan diseases, people with autism, mental retardation and those who have received transplants. The schedule will be reported shortly.

The Government prioritized the vaccination of people with Down syndrome and those receiving hemodialysis. (Photo: Minsa)

According to the Ministry of Health, different vulnerable groups will be gradually incorporated into the immunization process as more batches of vaccines arrive in the country.

5. Why are minors still not vaccinated?

So far, the vaccines with which the country negotiates are not intended for children under 18 years of age. Although Ugarte has highlighted that in the United States it has been decided to vaccinate people over 12 years old with Pfizer, this option has not yet been considered in the country. “This is good news, but it is not yet official in the rest of the countries. It will be a strategy to be defined when there is more information ”, said last Monday.

6. Can I get vaccinated if I have COVID-19?

No. People in full development of the disease, with a positive or suspected diagnosis cannot be vaccinated. If they appear in the registry, they must go to the vaccination center after they have overcome the disease. According to the informed consent of the Minsa, it is recommended to do it up to 90 days after discharge.

Those who have suffered COVID-19 before should also be vaccinated to avoid reinfections.

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7. What are the contraindications of the vaccine?

According to the Minsa, the main contraindications for vaccination against COVID-19 is being allergic to any of the components of the vaccine, having had a severe allergic reaction to a previous dose of the vaccine (against COVID-19) and being less of 18 years.

It is important to mention that vaccines can generate adverse events. According to the consent that must be signed before receiving a dose, most are localized at the injection site: pain, slight swelling, redness. Some systemic reactions such as headache, malaise, muscle aches or tiredness have been reported. These reactions resolve within 48 to 72 hours after vaccination.

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