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Vaccines for Puerto Rico

LARES, Puerto Rico – Local agencies came together to set up a vaccination center in Plaza de La Revolución Nov. 9, 2017. Elsie Camacho Torres, a nurse with Centro de Salud Lares, checks a patient’s paperwork before administering a vaccine. Torres prepares a vaccination, opening a new needle and syringe, checking it, and then filling it with the influenza vaccine. Carmen Lopez Perez, a nurse with Centro de Salud Lares, administers a vaccine to a patient, and applies gauze to prevent any bleeding. Local agencies, with some help from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, administered influenza, tetanus, diphtheria, and whooping cough (TDAP) ) vaccines to people throughout the community. They expected to administer 500 vaccines. (U.S. Army photo illustration by Sgt. Avery Cunningham)

Story by Sgt. Avery Cunningham

65th Press Camp Headquarters

LARES, Puerto Rico, Nov. 9, 2017 – Local agencies, with help from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, administered influenza, tetanus, diphtheria, and whooping cough (TDAP) vaccines to people throughout the community in Plaza de La Revolución. During the event social workers provided information about mental health, hygiene, and water quality and purification.

“We’re working very hard to help (Puerto Rico) stand up on its feet and go to a normal life,” said Brunilda Chico Moya, medical technician with the Puerto Rico Department of Health.

There is a lack of running water to wash hands, maintain hygiene, and sanitize, and many areas are densely populated. Both factors raises the risk of a flu epidemic in Puerto Rico, said Lilliam Rodriguez, president of the Vaccination and Prevention Coalition of Puerto Rico (VOCES).

“It’s important, to prevent outbreaks, that Puerto Rico has high rates of immunization,” said Dr. Angel Rivera, in charge of immunizations, Puerto Rico Department of Health, Immunization Division (Vaccination).

Trained, professional personnel need to administer the vaccines. The healthcare professionals come from different organizations and hospitals.

“We have a lot of volunteers here, nurses, doctors, and community members, working together,” said Rodriguez.

People aren’t always able to get out to a health center to receive vaccinations, so the volunteers set up in different communities to provide the necessary care.

“Instead of the people coming to us, we get to the people,” said Moya.

Given the circumstances, some of the diseases could be life-threatening and debilitating. The vaccines allow people to stay healthy so they can continue working.

“We know that the health is important, and we are here for the people. It is important to communicate that we are trying and we will continue,” said Rivera.

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