Overcoming Hurricane Maria: VOCES adapts to provide flu vaccines in Puerto Rico

Man receiving flu vaccine

Hurricane Maria dismantled transportation systems and power grids and destroyed a large portion of Puerto Rico’s flu vaccine supply, but VOCES: Coalición de Vacunación y Prevención de Puerto Rico (VOICES: Puerto Rico Vaccine Coalition) rallied to continue providing flu vaccines.

Electricity outages caused refrigeration to fail, destroying 90% of Puerto Rico’s flu vaccine. But with the remaining supply, VOCES began providing flu vaccines at the end of October.

“Flu vaccination is critical since we are already facing other health issues due to lack of potable water, contaminated water, and overpopulation at shelters,” said Lilliam Rodríguez Capó, President of the VOCES Board of Directors. These problems create “the perfect setting for influenza to spread out and create a serious public health issue.”

Since many bridges and roads are impassable, preventing people from coming to flu vaccine centers, VOCES decided to take flu vaccines to the people. With the Puerto Rico Department of Health, they created a new initiative— VOCES Sobre Ruedas, la Ruta de la Salud y Prevención (VOCES on Wheels, the Road to Health and Prevention).

VOCES volunteer Dr. Antonia Novello created a fundraising webpage, www.youcaring.com/immunizationpr, to raise money for more flu vaccine and to implement the mobile clinic plan.

Learn more about VOCES’ latest efforts on its Facebook page.