Things That Matter

As The U.S. Rolls Out The COVID-19 Vaccine, What’s The Future Of Vaccine Access In Latin America?

It’s official: the first shots are going into people’s arms at hospitals and nursing homes across the United States. In what is a record-shattering timeline, we already have several options for a vaccine to fight COVID-19 and hopefully allows us resume some sort of normalcy in our lives.

The U.S. wasn’t the first country to start administering the COVID-19 vaccine but it is one the largest to do so. And even as the U.S. struggles to implement a plan on how to roll out the program to growing numbers of people, there is growing discussion on when the vaccine will become available to countries across Latin America and if local governments will be able to successfully administer them.

Vaccines have started going into people’s arms across the United States.

Just a day after vaccines started rolling out from giant storage facilities, they’re already going into the arms of thousands of people across the country. Packed in dry ice, shipments of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine began arriving Tuesday at more than 400 hospitals and other distribution sites.

The first 3 million shots are being strictly rationed to front-line health workers and nursing home patients, with hundreds of millions more shots needed over the coming months to protect most Americans.

The rollout provided a measure of encouragement to exhausted doctors, nurses and other hospital staffers around the country.

Despite the vaccine getting approval, many governments aren’t prepared or able to start injecting people.

Credit: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Few regions in the world have been hit as hard by the pandemic as Latin America. And long before Coronavirus arrived, the region’s healthcare systems were already under immense strain.

Now, as Brazil registers the world’s second-highest Covid death toll and Mexico the highest case-fatality ratio, they’re unraveling, aggravating rising inequality, crime, economic decline and public mistrust. With 8% of the globe’s population and 30% of its Covid deaths, Latin America is facing the pandemic’s next phase – vaccines – with little in the way of confidence.

Meanwhile, there’s real fear that organized criminals could steal vaccines. In fact, just last month, hijackers commandeered a truck just east of Mexico City and hauled off its cargo. It wasn’t cash or jewelry but doses of ordinary flu vaccine so scarce in Mexico this year that there’s a black market for it. That wasn’t a good sign for the upcoming roll out of an even more scarce COVID vaccine.

Mexico may be the best equipped but there’s serious doubts and mistrust from residents.

Mexico approved the use of the Pfizer vaccine just days after the U.S. did. The government also ordered more than 34 million doses of the vaccine, the first 250,000 of which are expected to arrive in Mexico this month.

Mexican officials have placed responsibility for transporting the vaccine –which must be kept at -100 F – to the point at which they will be administered while the Health Ministry will be responsible for inoculation, with help from the Mexican military.

The vaccines ordered will be enough to inoculate 17.2 million people as each person must be given two shots 21 days apart. With only 250,000 doses expected to arrive this month, just 125,000 Mexicans – about 0.1% of the population – will be able to be vaccinated by the end of the year.

Health officials are very worried about the rollout in places like Brazil and Bolivia.

From Brazil to Bolivia, some leaders aren’t lending confidence to the entire system. In fact, Brazil’s Jaír Bolsonaro has moved on from demonizing masks to now saying he won’t get a COVID vaccine. Obviously, health officials are worried the toll this could have on his loyal supporters.

Meanwhile, in Bolivia, officials there approved ingesting bleach against the virus, which is widely considered useless and dangerous.

Although health officials insist they’re stocking up on equipment and mobilizing the military to help with distribution, many are still worried about what their vaccine programs will look like.

Brazil has long had a strong track record in vaccinating its 210 million people. According to a health experts, its five-decade-old immunization program, which operates 35,000 outposts, is in sturdy shape. Even in this difficult year, the government reached 90% of the people it intended to with the annual flu shot.

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Have A Virtual Hot Date? Here’s How To Make Sure It Doesn’t Suck

Culture

Have A Virtual Hot Date? Here’s How To Make Sure It Doesn’t Suck

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For the single introverts among us, lockdown might seem like the perfect opportunity to re-charge our social batteries and have some much needed alone-time. But no, thanks to the wonders of technology and just how damn adaptable human beings are, virtual dating has totally become a thing. 

For better or for worse, people are dating just as much as ever – albeit through a screen. So if you’re using dating apps during lockdown, arranging video dates and looking for virtual date ideas, here’s a handy guide on how to stay safe and how to ace virtual dating.

Make a damn effort

Act as if the date was in person and get ready accordingly. Shower if you haven’t already that day — it’ll make you feel a lot better — and put on your favorite outfit. Even if it’s not seasonally appropriate, who cares? Wear the sundress pushed all the way back in your closet. Put on makeup if that’s your thing, and do your hair. 

It makes all the difference not only in how you present yourself but by how you perceive yourself. You’ll feel better on the date, more like your “usual” self. 

Figure out your camera setup beforehand

Pro-tip: Do all this the day before, or at least an hour before, the date starts. That way you’re not scrambling and worrying about your angles. Decide if you’re going to use your phone or computer. Put it at eye-level, if possible. If you’re using a laptop, you can place it on a stack of books, but you can also DIY it by leaning your phone against your laptop screen (which can have its own book stack setup) or anything else you can find. 

And…lighting…lighting….lighting! Set yourself up with some good, flattering lighting before you start the call. Find a place that’s the most flattering in your house. Be sure you’re not backlit by a window which can wash out your face.

Simulate real date ideas

Credit: Luis Alvarez / Getty Images

Although you obviously can’t “grab a drink” together, you can simulate that. Text before the date and decide if you’ll be drinking wine, coffee, or eating dinner “together.” You can even do a twist on “Netflix and chill,” simultaneously using Netflix’s “party” function; if you go that route, choose something campy or that you’ve both seen before so you can chat easily during it.

Trust your instincts

“A nip slip may not be appropriate for a date with a new person,” Moraya DeGeare, a licensed marriage and family therapist, joked to Refinery 29. “It’s modern times, so I think there will be the temptation for people to be really bold and ask about FaceTime sex. People are horny and trapped in their houses. On one hand, that’s okay, but on the other, you’re risking someone taking screenshots,” she cautions. “Listen to your intuition and don’t do something you don’t feel comfortable with.”

She adds that you shouldn’t take the call from bed, because “you’re immediately sending all these other signals unintentionally.” Generally, she says you should conduct the date as you would in person.

Expect awkwardness to happen, because it will happen

Credit: Peter Dazely / Getty Images

Awkwardness isn’t necessarily a bad thing and, when dating is involved, it’s inevitable. First dates in real life have their own clumsy moments, so don’t beat yourself up if your camera freezes for a moment, or if you talk over the other person. It’s going to happen! Just laugh about it and move on.

Stay safe and comfortable

Although it may seem like common sense, being cooped up inside for so long has left many of us lacking some of the most basic people skills. Remember to not give out any of your personal details – think home address and bank details – and watch out for any suspicious links that might come through in the chat.

Before the date, it’s also a good idea to do some recon on your date’s social media to make sure they are who they say they are. Also, don’t show your face on camera if they’re not showing theirs, that’s a serious red flag.

And lastly, know that you can end the date whenever you want to. You don’t owe anybody anything and it’s totally fine if you’re feeling uncomfortable or in danger to just end the call. But remember, basic dating etiquete also still remains so don’t just close your computer screen without saying goodbye because you’re just not feeling the vibe.

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California Sets Vaccination Plan For Agricultural Workers During Next Phase

Things That Matter

California Sets Vaccination Plan For Agricultural Workers During Next Phase

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The world is racing to vaccinate everyone to put a stop to the relentless Covid-19 pandemic. In the U.S., states and counties are rolling out their own plans based on suggestions from health experts. California, home to the largest population of farmworkers, is making them a priority.

California has laid out their vaccination plan and farmworkers are being prioritized.

California is facing a relentless Covid-19 surge of infections, deaths, and hospitalizations. According to The New York Times, California has the second-highest level of infections per capita in the U.S. More than 30,000 people have died of Covid in California and the vaccination effort has been severely lagging.

California’s vaccination plan has been criticized for its very slow roll out.

According to the California Department of Public Health, more than 816,000 doses of the virus have been given to residents. There have been more than 2 million vaccine doses shipped to California. Currently, California, the most populated state in the country, is still in Phase 1A. Phase 1A is for healthcare workers and long-term care residents. The Vaccinate All 58 campaign claims that there are 3 million people in California in Phase 1A. Almost 40 million people live in California.

Activists have been calling on Governor Gavin Newsom to make sure that farmworkers are prioritized.

California is home to the largest concentration of farmworkers in the U.S. The Center for Farmworker Families claims that 500,000 to 800,000 farmworkers, or about 1/3 to 1/2 of the farmworker populations, live in California. Seventy-five percent of farmworkers in California are undocumented.

As the rest of the state was able to shelter in place, farmworkers did not stop working. They provided a necessary lifeline to the nation in keeping the food supply running. Farmworkers are more likely to contract Covid because of their living conditions. Studies show that the low wages that farmworkers are paid means that many live in crowded conditions.

READ: As The U.S. Rolls Out The COVID-19 Vaccine, What’s The Future Of Vaccine Access In Latin America?

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