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Here’s How Puerto Rico Has the Highest Vaccination Rate in the US and Is Top 10 Worldwide

Puerto Rico has faced crisis after crisis and, of course, it was not spared the damaging fallout of the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic. Although the island is still recovering from the one-two punch that were Hurricanes Irma and Maria, along with a damaging earthquake in 2019, Puerto Rico is making immense progress in the fight against its COVID-19 pandemic.

The island has officially become the most vaccinated place in the U.S. (and one of the top in the world) thanks to a robust public information campaign. So, how did Puerto Rico become the envy of the nation’s vaccination program? And how did the country manage to overcome the challenges the island faced at the start of the pandemic?

Puerto Rico has fully vaccinated more than 73% of its residents – earning it the top spot in the entire U.S.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Puerto Rico has fully vaccinated 73% of its 3.3 million residents, for a total of 2.3 million vaccinated individuals, according to CNN

Not only does it earn the top spot in the U.S., but it also makes the top 10 list worldwide according to data by Our World in Data.

Only countries like the United Arab Emirates, Portugal, Iceland and Singapore are doing better than the U.S. territory.

Experts say that Puerto Rico’s vaccination rate success is thanks, in part, to an early and rapid response toward preventing the spread of COVID-19 and the people’s willingness to comply with the restrictions placed by the local government, according to NBC News.  

The island became one of the first places in the U.S. to mandate face masks and the local government implemented many other rules to curb the spread of the virus – including vaccine education programs, vaccination events, lockdowns, curfew times, and rigorous sanitary measures.

Since the vaccines started being rolled out, the government has also taken an active approach by mobilizing the National Guard to organize massive vaccine events in shopping malls and remote rural towns, with an emphasis on vaccinating the elderly and other high risk populations, according to CNN.

But the island wasn’t always the poster child that it is now.

One of the many reasons Puerto Rico has seen such high vaccine rates, is also because many people were urgent to get their shots after the trauma that occurred at the start of the pandemic. Then there were the multitude of political, economic, and environmental crises that struck the island before the pandemic even arrived.

“All those emergencies and collective trauma primed Puerto Rico and the leadership, the scientific community, the healthcare community,” Daniel Colón Ramos, a neuroscience expert at Yale University and president of Puerto Rico’s Scientific Coalition, tells NBC News. “There was a sense of urgency. A lot of people that I have worked with, their attitude was like: Not on my watch. Not again.”

For more information on COVID-19 vaccines, please visit the CDC.

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