THE GUARDIAN.- David Agren in Mexico CitySun, February 7, 2021, 6:00 AM
Rodolfo spent hour after aggravating hour trying to register his elderly mother for a Covid-19 vaccination through a Mexican government website, only for the system to crash repeatedly.
“I spent three days fighting with the website,” he said. “My mom would have been unable to do it without me.”
After the site launched on Tuesday, millions of Mexicans over 60 who tried to register were met by an error message for days on end. And even when the page loaded, other users reported further delays while a separate government agency checks official ID numbers, only to deliver a message of “No response”.
Many countries, including Canada and EU member states, have struggled to roll out their vaccine programmes but Mexico’s disastrous launch came at a particularly bad time.
The country’s daily Covid-19 death toll averaged more than 1,000 during January, while hospital beds, oxygen tanks and intubation drugs were in short supply. The official death toll is now more than 163,000 – the third highest in the world.
The crashing health secretariat website only fuelled the sense that the government’s response was awry.
“It feels like a placebo,” Bárbara González, a political analyst, said after enrolling her parents for vaccinations. “It’s hard to believe things will start to get better when they have done such a poor job until now.”
Human rights groups also raised concerns that many people, including migrants from other countries and internal migrants, do not have an official ID number. “Health is a human right that cannot be denied to anyone for any reason, including their nationality or immigration status,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas director at Amnesty International.
Mexico was the first country in Latin America to receive Covid-19 vaccines and started vaccinating health workers on 22 December. But the pace has slowed to just 4,365 doses a day, according to Bloomberg’s vaccine tracker, and at the current pace, it would take a decade to vaccinate all Mexicans.