Young Mexicans party again, though some line up for vaccine

MEXICO CITY — Young adults in Mexico are coming out to party again, even as the country enters its third wave of coronavirus infections and vaccines have yet to reach those under 30.

The number of seriously ill patients aged 60 to 69 has dropped so far this year as the elderly got vaccines, the federal Heath Department says. But hospitalizations have more than doubled for those aged 30 to 39, who are only starting to get shots. Only about 40% of the country’s adults have received at least one dose.

Young people in their 20s are thronging restaurants and street-side beer stands in Mexico City, especially on the weekend. Few wear face masks, and many sing or shout while standing shoulder to shoulder.

But young adults are also lining up at vaccination centers, eager to get their dose.

Often the motivation for getting vaccinated is to be able to get back to work. While the Mexican government opposes requiring anyone to get shots, it is clear many feel that vaccinated people will be safer, and more accepted, in offices and other workplaces.

César Chávez Beltrán, 32, lined up for his first shot of AstraZeneca in Mexico City. A bank teller, he works in contact with other employees and the public. He was given time off work to get the shot.

“Obviously, I told them at work that was I was going to get vaccinated and once I get it, I’m going back to work,” Chávez Beltrán said.

The other big motivation is to get back to normal.

Luis David Díaz Sandoval, 30, works as a sound engineer at dance performances, and he was among the first 30-year-olds getting their first shots.

“The truth is, a lot of people have died and the hope is that with this (the vaccine) we can have a little more control,” Díaz Sandoval said.

“We are seeing a lot of parties now, and a lot of people have gotten vaccinated and are going around the streets, without masks, as if everything was over,” he said, adding “I don’t think so, I think this has just started.”

Unlike other countries where there has been resistance to vaccines among younger adults, in Mexico the resistance often seems to come from older people living in more traditional, rural states like Chiapas, where vaccination stations have often been deserted.

Mexico’s plan, once it gets enough vaccine, is to vaccinate everyone over age 18, despite the fact that there have been some rare side effects among younger people from both the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines, which make up two-thirds of doses in Mexico.

“The goal is to get everyone protected, given that is very rare for the vaccine to have serious undesirable effects,” Health Secretary Jorge Alcocer.

Mexico is entered its third wave of the coronavirus pandemic last week, as infections rose 29% from the week before.

But so far in the latest surge, only about a quarter of the country’s hospital beds are occupied. Hospital beds in many parts of Mexico were filled to capacity during the last wave.

Mexico City health authorities said they expect the third wave to peak in August in the capital, which has been the worst hit in the previous two waves.

Mexico has reported over 235,000 test-confirmed deaths from COVID-19, but because the country does so little testing, the government’s own figures on excess deaths suggest the true toll is around 360,000 dead.