Puerto Rico: Bringing COVID-19 vaccines to vulnerable communities

COVID-19 Vaccination Response in Puerto Rico

United States 2021 © Gabriella N. Báez/MSF

"Well, I wanted the vaccine because I know it’s good for me and my health,” said 79-year-old Candida Rosa Báez. "There are a lot of senior citizens who don’t have someone who can take them [to get vaccinated].”

Báez is one of thousands of people in Puerto Rico who have received care in their communities during the COVID-19 pandemic from Puerto Rico Salud (PRS), an organization founded in 2020 by Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) staff.

“In Puerto Rico we have many bedridden people, we have many caregivers, many remote communities,” said Carla Gonzales, nurse and cofounder of PRS. "And for that person to make the arrangements or the contact to be transported to a hospital or to a vaccination area . . . It's a very difficult and complicated process.”

Starting in April 2021, with MSF's support, PRS has been bringing COVID-19 vaccines to communities that might have fallen through the cracks of the health system's vaccine rollout, reaching people who are homeless, elderly, or living with disabilities.