A Light of Hope For the Families of Choloma and Villanueva: COVID-19 Community Vaccination Brigades Project in Honduras

Early in the day when the streets are still deserted, the buses hired by the project, travel to the city of San Pedro Sula to collect and transport the vaccinators to the municipalities of Choloma and Villanueva, the areas prioritized by the Health Region of Cortés to be supported by the COVID 19 Community Vaccination Brigades Project in Honduras, to expand vaccination coverage.

Dealing with the imposing sun or under the torrential rains (characteristics of the area) the megaphone resounds again and again with the “good morning, we are from the health center vaccinating children under five years old …” informing the population to attend the call and be attentive to receive their doses of vaccine in the comfort of their homes.

Julia Sánchez, from the community of El Calán Viejo in the municipality of Villanueva, is the grandmother of a girl who received a dose of vitamin A and a dose of COVID-19. She attends the call from the megaphone because she recognizes the importance of children receiving their doses of vaccines. After all, it helps them prevent diseases. 

On the other hand, there are some cases, where people are more reluctant to receive their doses, or simply do not open the door. Such is the case of Don Julio Andrade, who only opened the door after knocking for several minutes.

As he was being informed, he seemed to convey a bit of uncertainty and bewilderment. However, after listening to the information provided by the vaccinator, he attentively looks for his vaccination card to receive his booster dose of COVID-19, thanking the team of vaccinators for the hard task of going house to house knocking and motivating people to receive their respective vaccines.

According to the official data of the Health Region of Cortés, among these municipalities, there is a gap of approximately 9,005 children who have not received any dose of vaccine. Zoe Ávila is a girl of 18 months of age, a resident of the municipality of Choloma, who had not completed her vaccination scheme because her mother had not had the opportunity to take her to a health facility. However, after receiving the information, her mother committed to being aware of the vaccines for her little daughter.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends, “timely vaccination during childhood is essential because it helps to provide immunity before children are exposed to diseases that could be deadly”. However, like Zoe, there are thousands of Honduran infants who for various reasons, including the neglect of their parents, do not comply with their vaccination scheme, exposing their health to a diversity of diseases.

This project is executed by Global Communities, in collaboration with the Ministry of Health of Honduras, with the financial support of the CDC and The Task Force for Global Health (TFGH). In this sense, Iveth Barahona, Link of the Expanded Program of Immunizations (PAI, for its acronym in Spanish) of the Region of Cortés, is thankful for this important support that will contribute to reducing the current vaccination gap in the region.

With the assistance of the project, 30 vaccinators were employed, tasked with visiting 26,998 households and administering 63,600 doses of vaccines, encompassing both COVID-19 and other essential vaccinations from the program. To achieve this, a systematic sweep strategy was employed, focusing on locating, identifying, and vaccinating unvaccinated individuals or those with incomplete vaccination records, particularly prioritizing groups such as children under five, the elderly, and individuals with underlying health conditions. This initiative has emerged as a beacon of hope for the communities of Choloma and Villanueva.

Zoe Ávila (18 months) is one of the thousands of Honduran children who thanks to the support of this project, managed to complete their vaccination schedule.

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