ORLANDO, Fla. — Puerto Rican officials are crediting a robust COVID vaccine rollout for what’s now the highest vaccination rate in America.
Puerto Rico was hit hard at the start of the Pandemic, with their healthcare system nearing a breaking point.
Now, nearly 75 percent of Puerto Rico’s 3.3 million residents have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
By comparison, less than 60 percent of the total U.S. population is vaccinated.
Dr. Arcilio Alvarado runs Advantage Medical Group in Central Florida but also has offices in Puerto Rico. He says he’s not surprised to see Puerto Rico leading the way because, unlike the mainland, the shot hasn’t been politicized there.
“I believe this is not a politics situation,” Dr. Alvarado said. “This is a healthcare situation.”
Community advocate Jerick Mediavilla says there was a collective sense of community in Puerto Rico after all the island had experienced recently.
“What I felt arose in the community is precisely this sense of community,” Mediavilla said. “So everybody was helping each other. Everybody knew that they needed to follow the rules and follow instructions in order to make sure that everybody was safe.”
Mediavilla was born and raised in Puerto Rico and has been working alongside other community advocates to get Central Florida’s Hispanic community vaccinated.
He says it was a “no-brainer” for his relatives on the island to get the shot as soon as it became available.
Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows Puerto Rico also has the lowest COVID-19 community transmission rates, and one of the country’s lowest positivity rates at less than 3 percent.