Thousands of Residents of Puerto Rico Vaccinated Against Influenza Thanks in Part to Donation From Sanofi Cares North America

Mar 20, 2018 8:45 AM ET

Thousands of residents of Puerto Rico were vaccinated against influenza on Saturday, March 10, in the largest single-day mass immunization campaign in the island's history. The territory-wide campaign was organized by VOCES (Coalición de Vacunación de Puerto Rico), in collaboration with the Puerto Rico Department of Health; Direct Relief, a medical relief nonprofit; and other health entities. Sanofi Cares North America  (formerly Sanofi Foundation for North America) donated the vaccines. 

The event, VOCES Challenge: Puerto Rico Libre de Influenza (Puerto Rico Free of Influenza), was created in response to the rising incidence of flu in the territory, the destruction of much of the existing vaccine supply by Hurricane Maria and low immunization rates against flu.

The vaccines were administered free of charge in an eight-to-12-hour period at 50 access points in 36 municipalities across the island. They were drawn from a shipment of 42,500 doses of Fluzone® and Flublok® that Sanofi Cares donated through Direct Relief. As power supply is unstable, receiving stations used generators to keep vaccines refrigerated.  

In San Juan, the large sports arena Coliseo de Puerto Rico José Miguel Agrelot served as the vaccination access point. In other locations, residents received their doses at participating community pharmacies. About 280 nurses and 280 registration staff volunteered for this event. 

The massive effort was supported by Puerto Rico's Secretary of Health Dr. Rafael Rodriguez-Mercado, former Surgeon General of the U.S. Dr. Antonia Coello Novello and the presidents of several pediatric associations.