The arrival of vaccines against COVID-19 in Peru brought with them a dose of hope while going through one of the most traumatic episodes of the pandemic. Nevertheless, Since its inception, the vaccination process has been marked by scandals and speculation, the most recent being the expiration of thousands of doses intended for children between 5 and 11 years of age. In this regard, the former superintendent of Susalud and director of the MBA in health at UPC, Flor Phillips, raised some reasons that would have led to the unfortunate event.
Faced with the possibility of the expiration of 300,000 pediatric doses, the Deputy Minister of Public Health, Joel Candia, blamed the administration of Hernando Cevallos for an excessive purchase of vaccines. For his part, Dr. Phillips rules out this possibility, pointing out that the purchase of these was calculated in an amount equivalent to 85% of the population to which it was going to be destined. “What has flagrantly failed, and the Ombudsman says so, has been the vaccination process”, he added.
Already at the end of March, when there was a worrying decrease in the population’s attendance at vaccination centers, the Ombudsman issued a statement in which he urged the Ministry of Health “reinvigorate the vaccination process” Y “that takes into account the lack of human resources and evaluate the extension of the offer to other professionals”.
A few hours after his swearing in as Minister of Health were enough for Hernán Condori to be the target of criticism for his professional past. Phillips recalled the political noise generated by the then minister’s poor relations with his union, as well as the questioning of the Minsa during his administration. “All this contributed to an environment of little credibility in vaccination issues, which is the ministry’s primary responsibility.”, he narrowed down.
It should be remembered that at the beginning of March, the director of immunizations of the Ministry of Health, Gabriela Jiménez, decided to step aside by denouncing that the immunization strategy would be at risk due to the scarce interest of the authorities in the technical recommendations provided by the team that he led. The professional pointed out that “there is disorder, we are not having meetings where the technical epidemiological part can be reviewed and from the immunization area we are no longer taken into account”.
Philips made clear its respect for Hernán Condori as he was a health professional, but stressed that he is not a health professional; that is, a professional who guides epidemiological surveillance and control actions so that health entities make decisions in an informed and coherent manner.
The decrease in the number of people attending the vaccination centers coincided with a third wave caused by the Omicron, a new variant that aroused the alert of the authorities, but not so much of the population since it did not turn out to be as deadly as its predecessors. “If they were not vaccinated it would be fatal”, says Dr. Philipps, later emphasizing that the Ministry of Health failed in its communication capacity. “I would say that The messages from the Minsa to encourage people to go for their third dose must have been something really well thought out and structured. That way there would be no need to convince anyone“, he pointed.
The specialist highlighted the fact that the pandemic is not over yet and urged the population to complete their vaccination schedule. In addition, he recalled that there is the possibility of the arrival of a new variant whose characteristics we do not know. “If you are not protected, you are susceptible to getting sick, showing complications that take you to the ICU or even dying from a disease that already has a vaccine”, he added.
“It is inadmissible that the Ministry of Health has handled the vaccination process so poorly, especially when we have a fourth wave threat,” Phillips stressed, later pointing out that both misinformation and lack of logistics pose a great danger to the population. “Imagine that suddenly the problem of misinformation is overcome, but the population faces a lack of logistics that prevents their access to vaccines. These are two sides of a single coin,” he noted.