A Panamanian health worker receives the second shot of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at the Santo Tomas Hospital, in Panama City, Panama February 17, 2021. REUTERS/Erick MarciscanoPANAMA CITY, Sept 21 (Reuters) – Panama will offer a third COVID-19 vaccine dose to moderate and severely immunocompromised people starting this week, Health Minister Luis Sucre said on Tuesday.The decision follows similar moves by other Latin American countries such as Ecuador and Chile, which are already giving a booster vaccine dose to people at risk, for instance those with immunodeficiencies or the elderly. Among those eligible to get an extra shot during the first phase of the Panamanian plan are people undergoing cancer treatment and transplants, as well as those who received stem cells in the last two years or suffer from an advanced or untreated HIV infection.”The additional dose aims to improve the immune response” of immunosuppressed patients, Sucre said, explaining the campaign would be carried out in national and regional hospitals in the Central American nation of 4.2 million people.Panama has administered 5.3 million doses of the coronavirus vaccine and authorities say it is close to herd immunity.Sucre said the pandemic is under control after several weeks of sustained drops in daily infections.The Ministry of Health reported 341 new infections on Tuesday, taking its total number of infections to 464,781.Reporting by Elida Moreno in Panama City
Writing by Drazen Jorgic
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