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If you’re considering doing business south of the border, then you are probably interested in the subject of vaccines in Mexico. What is the current status of vaccination rollouts and requirements? With vaccine mandates being debated in the United States, and employment often depending on vaccination status, how Mexico has handled the same challenges may be unknown to you.
In this article, we will break down Mexico’s COVID response: their restrictions, business protocols, border concerns, the mandate question, and the current status of vaccines in Mexico. This information will help you in determining if Mexico is a good fit for your business.
As the COVID scare spread through early 2020, Mexico’s numbers of positive test results climbed rapidly. Death counts for people with COVID were among the highest in the developed world. As a result, there was a significant drive to reach full vaccination in the Latin American country.
In spite of delayed rollout of the vaccines in the country, Mexico’s President Manuel López Obrador declared on October 29, 2021 that “the commitment to apply at least one dose to all Mexicans, women and men 18 years or older, has been fulfilled.”
On that date, a full 83% of adults, and 58% of the overall population, had received at least one COVID-19 shot. The country has had some difficulty in acquiring the doses, and has currently received 147 million doses, approximately 58% of the vaccines it contracted for. 86% of those doses have been administered, almost exclusively to Mexican adults.
In spite of a court order to vaccinate youths, the Mexican government has pushed back against the concept of mass vaccination for children aged 12-17, citing their much lower risk of contracting the virus and questioning the court’s authority in the matter. Their position is that adults should be vaccinated first and that only youths with underlying health conditions, and therefore greater risk, should be administered the drug.
There are of course geographical disparities in the rollout of the shots. Among the northern states, where much of the adult population is employed in international manufacturing and important supply chain production, vaccine status among adults is very high. Generally speaking, the further south, the lower the acceptance of vaccines in Mexico.
In March of 2020, the US and Mexico jointly closed their borders to non-essential travel and instituted restrictions on business travel. However, the border was re-opened in November of 2021 to all non-essential travel with certain restrictions.
All land ports and ferries are now open into Mexico, but proof of vaccination is required. This is Phase 1 of two phases. The second will be implemented early next year when the US will require proof of vaccination for entry.
When travelling in Mexico, it’s important to understand Mexico’s system of handling the perceived thread of COVID infection. Mexico utilizes a color-coded system whereby each state is assigned the color red, orange, yellow, or green, based on how severe current hospitalizations and infection rates are at the time. Currently, most Mexican states, including the state of Mexico and Mexico City, are in the green.
Masks are generally worn indoors, but outdoor use is common, too. Outdoor events are permissible, but sometimes at reduced capacity. States in the green have no curfews or significant restrictions on travel, distancing, or gathering sizes. At present, there are no mandates regarding vaccines in Mexico.
With vaccine mandates becoming a hot button issue in the US, it is interesting to note that freedom is given to Mexican employees to determine their own vaccination status. While employers may request information regarding the vaccine status of their employees, they must only do so with consent of the employee. And because this information is considered personal and sensitive, such a request must include a privacy disclosure notice that details how this information will be used and a description of what data will be collected and stored.
Vaccines in Mexico are considered a highly individualistic choice. Employers may not discriminate against the unvaccinated. And testing is voluntary. While employees are legally required to disclose when they are seriously ill, this only serves to assign them a sick leave permit. Businesses in Mexico may not dismiss an employee for refusal to vaccinate. At this time, non-vaccination is not considered to be just cause for dismissal. But employers may dismiss an employee without cause if they supply a complete severance package.
Any encouragement the company may provide workers internally must be free of discriminatory language or threats. They may offer access to these drugs or treatment options or even incentives for being vaccinated. But there must be no implied threat of loss of employment benefits over the matter.
The hope is that, while the COVID scare has cost the Mexican economy much, the vaccination of most adults and ever lower infection rates mean Mexico has rounded the corner. The economy and manufacturing business show positive signs of rebounding strongly in the near future. Companies considering moving to Mexico should be aware of Mexican protocols for handling the virus and prepare for an optimistic future.