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Parents in Mexico turn to courts to get their children vaccinated

Mexico is recording some of its highest daily caseloads of the pandemic, according to data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University.

By: New York Times |
September 9, 2021 12:21:00 pm
mexico covid news, mexico vaccine news, mexico covid vaccinationThe legal battle is taking place as the more transmissible delta variant has pummeled Mexico, where only 28% of the population is fully vaccinated. (AP Photo)

Written by Isabella Grullón Paz

Hundreds of parents in Mexico are asking for court injunctions to have their children vaccinated against COVID-19 before they return to school, because the government has yet to offer a shot to people ages 12 to 18 even though they are authorized to receive it.

The legal battle is taking place as the more transmissible delta variant has pummeled Mexico, where only 28% of the population is fully vaccinated. The country is recording some of its highest daily caseloads of the pandemic, according to data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University.

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s administration wants all students to return to school for in-person classes, which have been suspended for almost a year and a half. The Pfizer vaccine was approved in Mexico for use in children 12 and older in June, but so far only those 18 and older have been able to get shots.

In the United States and various Latin American countries, vaccinations for children 12 and older are well underway. But Mexican officials have downplayed the risk of the virus for minors, saying older people still waiting for their doses should be given priority.

Alma Franco, a lawyer from the southern region of Oaxaca, was one of the first parents to sue and win an injunction. When she was granted the vaccine for her 12-year-old son, she tweeted a photo of the constitutional appeal, or “amparo,” a legal process used in Mexico. In her appeal arguing that her son should be entitled to vaccination, Franco cited both the health department’s approval for the Pfizer vaccine and Mexico’s laws around equal medical care.

Since then, she said, about 1,000 parents from around the country have emailed her asking how they can do the same.

“Most of the parents who have asked me for the amparo are just worried about what’s happening at a global level, and particularly in Mexico,” Franco said.

Hugo López-Gatell, the deputy health minister who is running Mexico’s response to the coronavirus, said at a news conference Tuesday that 262 legal appeals have been filed by parents since August, with the number rapidly increasing. He said that although he understood why parents want to ensure their children are vaccinated, every dose given to a student because of judicial action would otherwise have gone to someone with a higher risk of dying from COVID-19.

“Scientific evidence is abundantly clear and consistent that those who have the highest risk of severe COVID, hospitalization, intubation and death are older people,” López-Gatell said. “There is a scale where the risk is progressively decreasing for younger ages.”

The new school year in Mexico began Aug. 30, and the Mexican department of public education released a statement Tuesday saying that 12 million students 18 and younger were attending classes in over 135,000 schools. Entering the second week of the academic year, 88 schools have had coronavirus cases, and 39 had closed “as a preventive measure,” Delfina Gómez Álvarez, secretary of education, said in the statement.

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