Brazil’s Amazon Rainforest communities are being vaccinated against COVID-19!

This expedition was designed and conducted with Health In Harmony’s partner organizations in Terra do Meio. We’ve partnered with Riverine community associations (AMORERI / AMORA / AMOMEX / AERIM), Instituto Socioambiental (ISA), ICMBio (Chico Mendes Institute for Biodiversity Conservation), the Federal University of Pará’s School of Medicine, the Respira Xingu campaign, the Municipal Health Department, and the Department of Public Health / the government of Pará.

The contribution of each of these institutions, alongside HIH, was essential for planning, conducting, and completing an expedition with such complex logistics! Even the arrival of the vaccines for Riverine community members is the result of a joint effort between all of these institutions, who advocated for and ensured that these communities were considered a priority in the vaccination schedule by the Brazilian government.

Update: June 9, 2021

Two weeks into their trip, the team has vaccinated hundreds of Riverine community members in Resex Rio Xingu!

According to HIH Brazil Program Manager, Clarissa Martins, the first phase of the expedition has been a success, “we’re really excited for the results […] there’s been just a little bit of refusal of the vaccine, but we could talk with people and convince everybody to get the vaccine.”

Clarissa Martins, surrounded by a bevvy of beautiful Amazon butterflies, celebrates the success of phase one!

To make sure all community members are able to access medical care and vaccines, the team shared the vaccination schedule with communities by radio before their arrival and are traveling door-to-door to inoculate and conduct health consultations. To improve access for extremely remote families, fuel for transportation is also being provided to ensure families have the means to access vaccines and medical care.

Marcelo Salazar joined by community members heading off on the second phase of the vaccination expedition!

HIH Brazil Executive Coordinator, Marcelo Salazar, has now joined the team for the second phase of the expedition to vaccinate more Riverine community members living in Resexes Riozinho do Anfrísio and Iriri River.

Marcelo and Raimunda Gomes, a great community xamã (great healer), from Iriri River Resex
Iriri River and Amazon Rainforest

Marcelo was able to leverage internet connectivity through the Wi-Fi points that HIH installed last year and take part in a live webinar while on the trip with the former governor of the state of Pará.

Follow along with the expedition on social media!

Update: May 28, 2021

After tireless advocacy and campaigning by the Breathe Xingu coalition, traditional Riverine communities are finally receiving COVID-19 vaccinations! 

Nurse prepares one of the first COVID-19 vaccinations

HIH Brazil’s Marcelo Salazar and Dr. Érika Pelligrino alongside the coalition team have secured 1,000+ COVID-19 vaccines for traditional Amazon rainforest communities.  On Tuesday, the COVID-19 vaccines were signed off by the General Attorney of Altamira and municipality health security- a landmark shift in vaccine equity for communities whose protection and preservation of the Amazon rainforest is critical to addressing the climate and nature crisis.   HIH Brazil’s last-minute preparations have seen all hands on deck.

Brazil coalition team making final preparations for Xingu Basin vaccination expedition

Dr. Érika and the medical team are moving fast to vaccinate Amazon rainforest community members in Altamira. Dr. Érika had this to say about why this trip is critical, “Because the Traditional communities are guardians of the forest and of the knowledge of protecting them. For living in harmony with their environment, they are far away from the city centers and hospitals, which makes them more vulnerable in case they get infected with COVID-19. Also, they can’t just take a short trip to the nearest health center and get vaccinated according to priority groups, like the urban population. So, for them, this is important access and an important right.”

Dr. Érika Pelligrino takes blood pressure of female elder Riverine community member
Nurse administering vaccination to female elder Riverine community member

The month-long expedition leaves today – Thursday May 27 – to visit and vaccinate as many Riverine community members as possible. Distributing the COVID-19 vaccines fast, to enable the rainforest communities to stay in place and protect their lands – and not suffer additional exposure to COVID-19.  At an increasingly critical time, as we watch ever – greater Amazon ecogenocide by Bolsanaro.    

Please donate today! To support this expedition, vaccine equity, and environmental justice. 

We will be updating this blog regularly throughout the expedition so stay tuned for more updates!

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