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The battle against the pandemic is not being fought at the same pace. Although vaccination campaigns are progressing around the world, in some countries the line is moving more slowly than in others. Therefore, thousands of people have chosen to seek the doses against the COVID-19 outside their nation, including many Latin Americans who have the resources to travel mainly to the United States, a country that provides immunization without requiring a residence certificate.
But the so-called vaccine tourism also brings new challenges. As more people are inoculated against the virus abroad and vaccinations advance in their own countries, governments have a need to update the list of inoculated residents. In this way, more and more nations are asking their citizens to communicate whether they have received the doses abroad. Peru this week became the latest country to join that list.
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Given that the registration of these data depends on the travelers who decide to report their vaccination, for now it is very difficult to know exactly which countries all the people who have been vaccinated abroad are from, as well as to know which vaccines have been applied and in which cities have they done it.
In addition, one of the main concerns for those who have been inoculated outside their country is precisely that their data is protected, so it will be at the discretion of each government to disclose or not that information and to do so when it deems appropriate.
Next, we review the provisions that Peru and other countries in the region have taken regarding citizens who have been vaccinated abroad.
The Peruvian Ministry of Health on Monday enabled a digital platform for citizens who were vaccinated against COVID-19 outside the country to register with the aim of keeping the registry of people who have already been immunized updated and speeding up the inoculation process.
The portal to register vaccination abroad asks to include personal data and those referring to the vaccine that was received (dates of application of the doses, country in which the vaccine was received, etc.). To complete the required fields, it is recommended to have on hand or know the information of the vaccination card or the document that was given to the person at the time of vaccination.
“The information you provide is very important for public health, because it helps us to know the progress of the immunization process against the coronavirus in the country”, Indicates the government of Peru.
As of May 20, some 70,000 Peruvians have traveled to other countries to be immunized, especially the United States, according to official figures provided by the Vice Minister of Health, Gustavo Rosell.
Since June, the Mi Vacuna portal, where Colombians can check at what stage they can be vaccinated against COVID-19, also has an option to register the inoculation abroad.
Once on the website or the Mi Vacuna App, the user must select the hyperlink that says “Check my prioritization” and accept the Terms and conditions that will appear on the screen. After that, you must enter the information from your identity document and solve a simple mathematical operation.
After indicating the department and municipality, or city, where it is located, you must select the blue box that reads “Vaccinated abroad”And fill in all the required contact details again.
In the second part of the form, you must provide information on the country in which the first dose was applied, the date of application, the laboratory of the vaccine with which you were immunized, and whether or not the second dose was applied. Finally, you must press the box that says “Continue”.
The government has ensured that people who have even only received one dose of a vaccine that has a two-dose schedule could continue with the application of the second dose in Colombia.
In addition, the Bogotá authorities have enabled their own web application for residents who travel outside the country to be vaccinated to register their data and those of their family members who also received the injection. The registration is done by entering the application vacunadosexterior.saludcapital.gov.co. The information will only be used for epidemiological purposes and will be confidential.
According to Migración Colombia, 166,312 people traveled from Colombia to the United States in May, 74% more than in April, when 95,410 departures to that country were presented, and double the 83,573 in March.
Since June 6, Ecuadorians can register if they were vaccinated outside the country by accessing the same platform where all citizens can consult their vaccination centers.
When accessing the website lugarvacunacion.cne.gob.ec, users will now find the option “Update Vaccination Record” for people who were vaccinated abroad. In the system it asks them to add the date of issuance of the card and the fingerprint code, which is detailed in the same document.
“Your registration in the system will allow exclusion from the vaccination system, thus allowing the assigned quota to be used by another person“The government said in a statement.
Although Mexico does not have a system that specifically registers those vaccinated outside the country, the authorities stressed in early June that all Mexicans who have been vaccinated in the United States will be able to receive the second dose against the virus in the Aztec nation, provided that it’s the Pfizer vaccine.
The Undersecretary of Prevention and Health Promotion, Hugo López Gatell, explained that only Mexicans who were immunized with the Pfizer dose may be vaccinated in Mexico with the second application, and in both countries different vaccines are applied.
While the United States is applying the Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson vaccine, Mexico is doing the same with Pfizer, AstraZeneca, SinoVac, Sputnik V and CanSino.
López Gatell pointed out that the second dose of Pfizer can be applied three to five weeks after the first dose and that citizens can attend any vaccination module, respecting the date that corresponds to it according to the calendar.
According to official figures, some 2 million Mexicans have traveled to the United States in recent months to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
The Panamanian authorities approved in early May to apply the second dose of the coronavirus vaccine to those residents who left the country to get vaccinated abroad.
Thus, all people who have received the first dose outside the country must enter the proof of that vaccination in the Panama Digital portal (www.panamadigital.gob.pa).
After completing the entire process in the section Request for second vaccination dose (Foreigners or vaccinated abroad), the platform will generate the appointment for the second dose.
“The application of this second dose will be done regardless of whether the person has received the Pfizer or AstraZeneca vaccine and in both cases the corresponding date is at least 30 days after the first dose.”, Indicates a statement from the Panamanian government.
Chile is not on the list due to the advanced stage of its vaccination campaign. So far, the country has already managed to vaccinate 80% of the target population. In addition, the southern neighbor maintains the borders remain closed until July.
In Argentina, the phenomenon of trips to the United States has increased since April. However, according to official sources consulted by the Infobae portal, there are no records on the number of Argentines who traveled to the North American country due to the shortage of vaccines and there is no portal or clear guidelines on whether it is necessary to report the inoculation abroad.
According to data from Migrations, between April 13 and May 13, a total of 16,695 Argentines traveled to the United States, the media reports.
Point of view: Why is it important to report that I was vaccinated abroad?
For Johnattan García, a Colombian professor who specializes in global health in Latin America and the Caribbean, the most important thing for vaccination plans is to be able to have a record of how the inoculations are progressing, because the more transparency there is about who has received the vaccine, the easier it is to focus. the effort of governments to cover those who have not yet been vaccinated.
“The message for any country, especially for Latin America, where we have to better focus our resources, is that we must work to have the best possible information available and that can only be done if people make the decision to inform their governments that they already they have the vaccine”, He tells El Comercio.
It also highlights that since the greatest interest is to be able to advance in vaccination, no government should take any type of retaliation or actions that block the possibility of people being vaccinated.
“It is important for governments to understand that since it is public data, many people have every right to want to know how that information is going to be used. So to the extent that governments have a way to keep that information anonymous, it is positive that they ensure that nothing will be done with that data, beyond having a statistical record. That can give people more confidence to understand why it is important to record their vaccination, as well as so that they can access second doses if they need them.”, Says the expert.
It highlights that the application of the second dose for the people who left the country does not represent something negative for the governments because it means that they only have to apply one dose and not two.
Likewise, it considers that more countries will join in enabling this type of registry, but the percentage of people who can leave their countries to be vaccinated must be considered very low. “In the case of Colombia, I don’t think it is more than 1% of the population. Citizens of several Latin American countries require a visa to enter the United States and they must also have the economic possibility to travel and stay in that country for more than three weeks, if they decide to get a two-dose vaccine”He adds.
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