Things That Matter

I Went To A Covid Vaccine Clinic In Mexico City And It Was Next-Level

As we are in the midst of yet another wave of the Covid-19 pandemic – thanks in part to the Delta variant and vaccine hesitation – it’s more important than ever for people to continue being vaccinated. And although Mexico doesn’t have the same rate of vaccination as some countries, thanks in part to limited access, the country is doing quite a lot when it comes to incentivizing its residents to get injected.

Mexico’s vaccine program looks a lot different from that in the United States.

Although I live in Ciudad de México, I was privileged enough to travel back to the United States in April for my two doses of the Moderna vaccine. At the time, Mexico was barely starting to vaccinate those 50 and above and I wouldn’t have been eligible until early 2022. Thankfully, that is no longer the case as Mexico has sped up its vaccination program, and now (as of August 2021) anyone over 18 who wants a vaccine is able to get their first dose – at least here in the capital.

And, unlike in the U.S., Mexico has a wide variety of vaccines approved for emergency use: seven in Mexico vs three in the U.S. But you never quite know what vaccine you’ll get until you’re seated in that chair about to get the jab.

According to data from the Reuters COVID-19 Tracker, Mexico has administered at least 80,683,665 doses of COVID vaccines so far and reached about 24% of the population. In contrast, the U.S. has given 363 million doses and fully vaccinated more than 52% of the country.

In the capital city, officials are doing all they can to get vaccines into people’s arms.

Much like in the U.S., vaccine hesitancy – thanks to conspiracy theories, fake news, and misinformation – is a very real thing. But officials have done a lot to combat this by implementing major public education campaigns and by trying to make the vaccine experience fun and memorable.

When I had the chance to join my friend on his vaccine appointment, I knew I had to go with him after seeing some of the viral TikTok and Instagram moments from around the city. While my vaccine appointment in New York was mundane and boring (albeit well-organized), everything I saw about vaccines here in Mexico City almost looked like fun. But what was the experience actually like?

Even critics of the government admit the city is doing a good job at keeping things organized.

Of course, it would be great if the vaccination rate was higher and the government was doing more to get vaccines, but most residents agree that the actual rollout has been very smooth – aside from the initial collapse of the online server that hosted the appointment website. Communication about appointments is all handled digitally (there’s even an app) and at the mass vaccination clinics, there is both crowd and traffic control with plenty of military police and volunteers there to help point everyone in the right direction.

The vaccine clinic we went to had an almost party like atmosphere.

Justin Lessner

Although we arrived early – 8:30 a.m. – pretty much the entire group of 500 people were high energy and excited to get vaxxed. Granted it was a younger group – those between 25 and 35 – and there were plenty of volunteers there to get the crowd hyped, leading dances, workouts, and at one point even yoga. Tons of people showed up in costumes, ready to document the day so many had long been waiting for.

Between the line to get into the mass clinic, the sitting down waiting for the jab, and the 15-minute wait afterward in the nursing station, we were in and out in about 45 minutes. All in all a very efficient experience and I left really impressed with the entire system – and grateful so many people (including my friend) had finally gotten their first dose of the vaccine.

Though on our way out, I saw a group of lucha libre wrestlers arriving ready to put on a legit wrestling match for the next group of vaccine recipients. It almost seemed like each group’s organizers were trying to outdo the other with the level of entertainment they could get on board.

Mexico even created a pandemic mascot. They named him Pandemio.

Leave it to Pandemio, the city’s vaccine mascot, to show off just how hot and sexy you get after your Covid-19 shot. And although it’s hard to tell if all the spectacle is actually helping to increase turnout – which remains stubbornly low – one thing is for sure, it’s helping comfort those in the crowds who might be nervous.

And when videos of older people dancing or scared tías being cheered on by luchadores as they got their shot started popping up on social media, it left many in the capital feeling proud and grateful. It almost made many of us cry.

While Mexico still has a long way to go in ensuring equitable access to the vaccines – and richer, more developed nations have a responsibility to make sure all people are vaccinated – last week’s 45-minute vaccine experience left me feeling hopeful and proud that we will eventually beat this pandemic together.

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