TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras (AP) — Honduras, one of the last countries in Central America to receive COVID-19 vaccine, has designated a portion of its stockpile for citizens of neighboring Nicaragua as fewer Hondurans line up to be vaccinated.
Since Monday, Nicaraguans have been flocking to Nicaraguan border towns to be vaccinated with Pfizer and Moderna, rather than the Cuban and Russian vaccines on offer in their own country.
The Honduran government set aside 100,000 doses for Nicaraguans and set up various vaccination sites for them along the border. In San Marcos de Colon alone, more than 4,000 doses were given from Monday to Wednesday.
Vice Minister of Health Fredy Guillén said Wednesday that the inventory of vaccines Honduras has accumulated through donations and purchases “gives us the opportunity to make available around 500 vaccine (doses) daily for Nicaragua (and) other neighboring countries.”
Honduras has received more than 5 million doses since October, he said, adding that 58% of eligible Hondurans had received a first dose and 40% were fully vaccinated.
As fewer Hondurans seek out the vaccine there was a danger the doses could expire.
“It would be terrible if Honduras had vaccines that were going to expire and it’s better to use them on a nearby population,” said Blanca Munguía, director of health at the nongovernmental organization Association for a More Just Society.
Honduras has more than 7 million people older than 12 years who would be eligible for vaccination. So far 6.7 million doses have been applied, according to the health ministry.
Nicaraguans normally aren’t restricted from entering Honduras, but due to the pandemic they are required to show a negative COVID-19 test result, something that can cost $150. For that reason many were entering Honduras illegally — some on horseback or in boats — between official ports of entry to be vaccinated.