Photo: Flickr, retrieved

From April 24 to April 30, the World Health Organization (WHO) celebrated World Immunization Week, an event meant to remind everyone how vaccines have dramatically improved our lives, and how important they are to keep people healthy. During this week, the WHO celebrates some of the most important landmarks of modern public health, like the over 116 million kids around the world who received a complete vaccination scheme against diphtheria, and how vaccination has caused an 84% drop in cases of measles since 2000. These numbers contrast with the Venezuelan situation, where two decades of socialism and corruption have left us with nothing to celebrate.

According to the Pan-American Health Organization’s (PAHO) latest report on diphtheria, Venezuela has 976 confirmed cases since the current outbreak erupted almost two years ago. In the same period, 142 patients (mostly children) have died. Additionally, one Venezuelan child died in Colombia, and another in Brazil. The situation with measles doesn’t look any better; since the Venezuelan outbreak, that started last June, 1,006 cases have been confirmed, with two deaths. Venezuelan cases have also been exported to Brazil (34 cases), Colombia (five cases) and Ecuador (one case).

This is not a coincidence: according to WHO/UNICEF’s latest bulletin, by 2016 only 84% of children between 12 and 23 months had received the complete three-dose vaccination scheme against diphtheria, the second lowest percentage in the region, following Ecuador. This might seem like a high number but Zimbabwe, for example, reported a 90% coverage that same year. A similar, yet more dramatic situation, is seen with the measles-containing vaccines (MCV) scheme, completed in only 53% of susceptible children. Similar numbers can be seen in most vaccines, with the Rotavirus vaccine having the sharpest drop, going from 84% in 2015 to a astonishingly low 47% in 2016.

The fact that an organisation like PAHO remains silent about the fake cards situation is irresponsible and goes against the spirit of WHO.

The Maduro administration announced a “massive”, PAHO-sponsored vaccination plan, saying they’ll distribute 11 million vaccines to protect the population from 14 different diseases. This, as everything the government says, is a lie. The number of vaccines is simply too small. Take for example the pentavalent vaccine, used in Venezuela to prevent diphtheria and five other diseases. The government imported 317,354 vaccines meant to cover the population from six months to five years old, which based on projections from the 2011 National Census, is almost 3 million children, each of whom needs at least three doses in a 18 month period to grant full protection. The situation was denounced by NGO Médicos Unidos por Venezuela, and a detailed explanation can be found on this twitter thread by paediatrician Alejandro Crespo.

We won’t elaborate on how vaccines are being administered in squares, malls and other public places in the middle of an unprecedented electrical crisis, where the refrigeration needed can’t be guaranteed. And low coverages are not even the worst thing happening.

Several countries, including Brazil, Ecuador and Peru (three of the most popular destinies for Venezuelan migrants) regularly report cases of human-to-human transmission of yellow fever, so they demand a vaccination certificate to foreigners entering the country. Theoretically, the vaccine is available for free at any of the outpatient clinics the Venezuelan Health Ministry manages in the country, and it was like that until a few months ago. Recently, massive emigration, coupled with the Ministry’s incompetence, have made the yellow fever vaccine hard to find. Back in January, people were forced to wait for fifteen days to get the vaccine, which must be applied at least ten days before traveling, to grant full protection.

We ended up in Caracas, but it was impossible to find it, so my mom met someone who sold us a card with a health center seal, all fake.

Today, it’s nowhere to be found. What are migrants doing?

They take advantage of corruption.

The international certification card (not the vaccine) that “proves” an individual has been vaccinated against the disease is being directly sold to travelers.

“We visited several outpatient clinics where they told us the vaccine was only available for children,” Sofía (not her real name) told us from Puerto Ordaz. “We ended up in Caracas, but it was impossible to find it, so my mom met someone who sold us a card with a health center seal, all fake.”

We can’t stress how terrible this is. Yellow fever is not a joke. It’s a deadly, viral mosquito-transmitted haemorrhagic fever with a mortality rate of 20%. It begins as an undifferentiated condition with fever, vomits and muscle aches and most patients recover after a couple of days, but some develop jaundice, massive bleeding and multiorgan failure leading to death. This is the disease that drew Napoleon away from Hispaniola and that almost stops the construction of the Panama Canal, not a common cold, for God’s sake.

An unvaccinated Venezuelan traveler holding a fake Carte Jaune could get infected in another country and spark an urban outbreak right there, or here if he comes back soon enough. You only need a single carrier to unleash a deadly, easily transmitted infectious disease in the country with the most fragile health system in the continent.

The fact that an organisation like PAHO remains silent about the fake cards situation and the evident farce of Maduro’s vaccination plan, with his government’s ultimate responsibility in the development of current (and likely future) regional health crisis, is irresponsible and goes against the spirit of WHO and this whole World Immunization Week thing.

If something, Venezuela is an example of how horrible things go when vaccines aren’t taken seriously, and must be acknowledged as such by the whole world.

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30 COMMENTS

  1. Pfft! Maduro will just claim that

    1. All of this bad news is just US/CIA propaganda. Venezuelans are 100% covered, or
    2. All of this bad news is ONLY because of US interference with the Glorious Revolution, or
    3. Venezuelans don’t need vaccines. They are super-Bolivarians with natural resistance to such things.

    And 20-33% of the population will believe him… which is the most disturbing thing about all of this.

  2. “An unvaccinated Venezuelan traveler holding a fake Carte Jaune could get infected in another country and spark an urban outbreak right there…”

    And there’s still people believing that “an intervention won’t happen because venezuelans ‘dUnT dEsErBe iT’ and chabizmo poses no risk for anyone outside Venezuela”

    chabizmo, and by extension the CUBAN REGIME, has become a continental threat, because not only they’re cranking MASSIVE amounts of drugs, but they are also exporting criminals (See all the chabizta scum that’s fleeing their dear revolution), they turned the country in a save haven for terrorists (As much as some still want to stick their heads underground), and became a biohazard too with the exportation of people vulnerable to diseases.

    The chabizta regime MUST be ousted by ANY means neccessary and by ANY cost neccesary, the worst scenario of all is the current one: The same one since 1999, “The regime in power”, simple as that.

    No cost is too high and no consequence is grave enough to keep trying to find any “arrangement” with the criminal bands that have taken over the country and their masters who have INVADED Venezuela.

  3. I guess a murderous regime that doesn’t shrink from allowing children to starve will not flinch at allowing children to succumb to preventable disease…terrible.

    • It’s an INVADING regime.

      The less venezuelans are getting in the way and the more of those are working in the drug camps is the better for the castro-cuban overseers.

  4. “This, as everything the government says, is a lie.”

    And perhaps, one day, you, part of the Media, you’ll learn to call them for what they are, which does matter.

    The “Regime”. At least.

    Narco-Tyranny. Better. More accurate.

    Kleptozuelan Kleptocrats. Even more accurate. Look it up on a thing we should use, called Dictionary.

    Why does it matter? To call things for what they really are? Instead of “El gobierno de Venezuela”

    I’ll leave that up to you. Think about it. For a change.

    Think.

    Y que viva Cleptozuela y Cubazuela tambien. Porque Venzuela ya no existe desde hace tiempo.

    • I, personally, find your incessant repetition of invented compound words tiresome. However, I do agree that it would be appropriate to avoid lending ligitimacy to the thugs in control of Venezuela by calling them “the government”. I tend to favor the word “regime”. It acknowledges the reality that they hold power, while denying them the dignity of calling them a government.

  5. In USA the yellow fever vaccine is “supposed” to be covered, but I could not find ANYBODY willing to cover it as “preventive care”(and thus covered under current healthcare law.) If I instead asked for the yellow fever vaccine for travel, it was readily available for about $200.
    Brazil gave me the yellow fever vaccine for free.

    • 200$ is pocket change in most capitalist countries, so people usually doesn’t have any problem to pay for it.

      On Venezuela, where the average wage is around 2$ per month, not so much.

    • Why would you need to buy a vaccine for something that was erradicated in the USA so long ago?

      You do realize that getting vaccinated for every know desease will make the need for vaccinations pointless when you reach room temp.

      For those slow readers, there are combinations of vaccines that when administered sequentially can kill you.

      I get vaccinations for influenza for $10 and my kids get it for free. More people die from influenza than yellow fever.

      Even a die hard liberal understands what makes the most difference, right?

      • I travel a fair amount and try not to pay for something that is, in theory, legally required to be covered by the insurance I pay every month. But I did give in and pay cash in the USA for the typhoid vaccination, for example(the “covered by insurance” version was not available but the “travel version” was available.)

      • Why would you need to buy a vaccine for something that was erradicated in the USA so long ago?

        Because he was traveling, obviously.

  6. You like this one better?

    Corruptozuela.

    Let’s be precise and accurate, huh. Or mediocre and inaccurate, as the CC Chronicles dumb team.

    Go right ahead and censor every decent comment now. It’s Chavista crap land, you rule. Enjoy your own crap, while it lasts.

  7. When you say, “human-to-human transmission of yellow fever”, does that mean as opposed to, say, monkey-to-human transmission, which I understand is common? I assume any/all transmissions involve a mosquito, or am I mistaken?

    • Exactly. Monkey-to-monkey transmission is what we call the Jungle Cycle, which keeps the disease active in isolated areas and makes it hard to erradicate. Human-to-human transmission is the urban cycle, which usually sparks epidemics. A particular mosquito (Usualy Haemagoggus sp in the jungle cycle, or Aedes aegypti in the urban) is always needed as a vector for the virus to pass from a human (or monkey) to another. You can have more info here. https://www.cdc.gov/yellowfever/index.html

      • I have to add that chabizmo made a habit of blaming numerous ailments on the pesticides regularly used to control the populations of those bugs as well as the ones used to control pests that attack crops, claiming those were simply “a capitalist lie to suck more money from the poor”

  8. Congratulations to both authors for pointing out the tragic failure of the Maduro goverment to provide essential vacination for the people of Venezuela. I cannot fathom how your clear and concise condemnation became a launch pad for critizism that you are soft on Maduro. Socialists pride themselves on their successes in education and healthcare and many journalists mindlessy echo those claims. CC continues to point out factually that Maduro et al has failed Venezuelans both in healthcare and education. Your good work is appreciated by this conservative gringo.

  9. My mother-in-law died in VZ at the Chavismo turning point. They just came into power. I can’t even remember and gotta do the math. It could have been 6 months, a year, or a year and a half.

    My point is:

    When we visited her in the hospital (flew from NYC), I was appalled that this was considered a real hospital in the first place. It disgusted me.

    So although I certainly don’t say this to defend Chavismo, I don’t think there’s much validity in saying VZ has to go back to “those good old days.”

    It stunk then, but simply stinks outrageously now.

    Hugo hadn’t destroyed health care in the first few years, because he just didn’t have the time!

  10. Sorry to go off topic, don’t know the best place to post this:
    Something like:
    Maduro ordered Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) and the ministers for oil and transport to get the payments for aviation fuel from international airlines, in the Petro — Venezuelan cryptocurrency.

    https://maduradas.com/sepalo-gobierno-vendera-gasolina-a-aerolineas-en-petros/
    “Toda la gasolina que se venda a los aviones en dólares, de servicios internacionales (…), toda la gasolina debe venderse en petro, toda a partir de ahora”, expresó [Maduro].

  11. Vaccinations for deadly diseases and thise that cripple an entire generation are well known.

    Polio is one example. So is MMR. (But nut jobs will still claim those vaccines cause autism and alien abductions)

    Both Canada and the USA effectively erradicated these until recently… Until those without innoculations or who believe in witchcraft ignored science and conned millions into believing otherwise.

    I really wish all vaccinations were free, just like I wish all food and housing and clothing were free. But only the most life threatening events must be handled first. When something kills so indiscriminately, it takes priority.

    Getting back to VZ….

    It’s sad when socialsm kills. But, here it on display once again. And it won’t be the last.

    • Correction: you do NOT wish food clothing housing etc. were free. No one does. Think of the spoiled rich kid syndrome. The only real satisfaction you get is from production. Want to find a happy man? Find one who knows he has produced a lot. There was a story of the guy who founded First USA, a credit card company that was bought out for some $16 billion (IIRC). The guy was, at the time, worth a billion, in his early eighties. The story is that one of the things he loved to do was get to work before the doorman to his 40 story office building headquarters got there, every day, so he could stand by the front door and say, “Good morning!” as the doorman walked up. After the buyout, his net worth doubled, poor bastard. He probably died soon after – unless he started up another company.

      • I worked for the advertising agency that handled all of First USA’s marketing. They were one of the first, if not truly the first, to engage in predatory CC lending practices.

        • Their default or non-payment rate was close to 2% – one of the three leading lowest in the industry. How do you explain that, if they engaged in what you view as predatory lending? Current average interest rates on credit card debt is 15%. Wouldn’t you call that predatory (usurious), considering the 90 day T-Bill rate is 1.84%? Of the central point I posted, you say nothing, and decide to troll me? As if I have given you some reason to?

    • “It’s sad when socialsm kills”

      It always has and always will, it’s what socialism does, probably it was designed to do ONLY that. .. kill!!!

    • Why can’t I have three separate visits to the doctor for my baby, each for a separate measles, mumps and rubella vaccination?

      Am I a nutjob for wanting this, because I don’t think it’s worth the chance because the MMR is too much to give a baby at one time? But we’re forced to do it, because the insurance and pharm companies say you have to?

      Don’t get me fucking started. My older boy, 26, is autistic. It’s not unreasonable to give parents the CHOICE, especially since there’s indisputable evidence of drastic behavioral changes after getting the MMR.

  12. “I really wish all vaccinations were free, just like I wish all food and housing and clothing were free” 

    Against all logic and experience the dream of free food, housing and clothing lives on. You may wish to consider that once the goverment controls the economy corruption, abuse and dictatorship are well within its grasp and poverty results. Failed, long term experiments in Cuba, Venezuela, Russia, Eastern Europe throughout much of the 20th century haven’t put a dent in the utopian obsession with free. Nothing is free.

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