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Preventative Medicine Through Vaccination Brigades

I have been working for three days with the ISSSTE hospital in San Cristobal preventative medicine program. It’s a federally funded health center in San Cristobal that offers free healthcare.  I got to visit a school and spend time walking from house to house with a vaccination brigada.  Literally, these are vaccination brigades that are composed of a pair of vacunadores that visit patients and make sure they have all necessary vaccinations according to the national schedule for vaccination.  Sometimes it’s just checking records, but other times its actually visiting the home to give a vaccination.  These house calls are for kids from birth to 6 years.  


Just some observations and things I have yet to figure out:  I don’t understand why, but apparently a lot of people who are enrolled in the federal programs for free healthcare don’t take advantage of them.  The people I have been working with try really hard to stress the importance of preventative medicine, but sometimes people straight up refuse free vaccinations. I do admire their efforts and the way the vaccination schedule is promoted through cartillas that every registered newborn is given to keep track of their vaccination record (since the 1970s).   The vaccinations applied here are quite different from those given in the US, and as new vaccinations are developed the schedule tends to be updated or changed, so that can become a challenge.  For example, within the last five years, the schedule has changed about three times.  It also can be hard to apply vaccinations when a lot of kids are sick.  This is the rainy season and a lot of kids have fevers, coughs, and head colds.  Giving a kid a vaccination, especially a live one, under these conditions could be bad, so we haven’t had a lot of chances to vaccinate.


The preventative health program is headed by Dr. Luis Enrique Castro, a young doctor who recently completed public health training in Mexico City at the National Institute of Public Health.  It turns out that the Institute has a US accredited degree program for a masters in public health.  They work with the University of Guadalajara, which happens to have a degree program for US citizens in the med school.  While it’s not something I had really given consideration, I will most likely be applying there now.  Most classes are taught in English but I could get some really good clinical exposure in a Spanish-speaking environment in the third and fourth years of med school.  So far it’s looking very interesting!


This is just a small update of what’s been happening the last few days.  I might get to give some vaccinations next week, so I’ll keep you posted. 


The other night I got together with Brandon and Michael, and we came up with a list of some things we are currently liking about Mexico.  I’ll leave you with that!


Walking everywhere

Nutella on corn tortillas

Speaking Spanish all the time

The nice people, coworkers, bosses

Orienting ourselves by using the surrounding hills and mountains


Salsa dancing

The churches

No te Metas con Zohan


Foreign perspective on US and International issues

Presidential election discussions in Spanish at the dinner table

The mealtimes

The marimba music



The end of stomach problems



Nutella on corn tortillas?? I would have never thought of that!


Good job with the blogging! It sounds like you are really enjoying it there, which is great! I think you will gain a lot from this experience and get a different perspective on your interests. I will try to remember to read these as much as I can!

Take care and enjoy!