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An Uruguayan who received Sinovac for his first two doses gets a Pfizer shot as a booster on Aug. 16. Photo: Ana Ferreira/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Chile, Uruguay and the Dominican Republic have begun vaccinating their citizens with a third dose of coronavirus immunizations as COVID-19 continues to ravage Latin America and the Caribbean.

Driving the news: Their experience bears watching now that the U.S. has determined booster shots will be needed around eight months after the first immunization period.

  • The three countries initially used the less costly and more available Sputnik and Sinovac vaccines, which studies show have lower efficacy against variants.
  • People there are now being given AstraZeneca and Pfizer doses, in a real-time experiment of mixing-and-matching.

But, but, but: Most other countries in the Americas have yet to start vaccinating many of their residents.

  • The Pan-American Health Organization announced last week it will begin buying vaccine doses to distribute directly in the region, as wealthier countries drain those available through COVAX for their booster shots.
  • Latin America and the Caribbean are being hit concurrently by the Delta, Lambda and Gamma variants of SARS-CoV-2.

For reference: In the U.S., recent vaccinations are reaching more Hispanic and non-Hispanic Asian and Black people who had lagged in vaccine access.

  • Data compiled by the Kaiser Family Foundation shows the share of vaccinations going to Hispanic people increased significantly towards August in the 40 states that report ethnicity.

Watch: Axios' Stef Kight and Axios Latino co-author Russell Contreras talk with Texas Rep. Veronica Escobar and cardiologist Juan Rivera at an Axios Latino event about building confidence around vaccines and other health care issues.

Go deeper

Oct 19, 2021 - Health

J&J expects $2.5 billion of vaccine sales this year

J&J's COVID-19 vaccine. Photo: Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Johnson & Johnson registered $502 million of global revenue from its COVID-19 vaccine in the third quarter, bringing year-to-date vaccine sales to $766 million.

The big picture: J&J, which is selling the vaccine at a not-for-profit price of $7.50 per dose, still expects to generate $2.5 billion of COVID vaccine sales this year, executives said Tuesday. But that total will still dwarf the use and sales of the vaccines made by Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna.

Oct 19, 2021 - Health

Supreme Court declines to block Maine health care workers vaccine mandate

A Maine health care worker prepares vaccine dose. Photo: Gregory Rec/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images

The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday declined to hear an emergency appeal of a vaccine mandate for Maine health care workers.

The big picture: The mandate, which was announced in August by Democratic Gov. Janet Mills, says that Maine health care workers need to be vaccinated by Oct. 29 or risk losing their jobs and not qualifying for unemployment benefits.

Oct 19, 2021 - Health

Puerto Rico leads U.S. COVID vaccination rates

A mass vaccination event at the Puerto Rico Convention Center in San Juan, Puerto Rico, on March 31. Photo: Ricardo Arduengo/AFP via Getty Images

Puerto Rico has the highest percentage of people fully vaccinated against the coronavirus in the United States as of Oct. 19, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Why it matters: The island has managed to accomplish such feats amid frequent power outages, earthquakes and high dependence on imports of health technologies from outside the region.