(CNN)For Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, vaccinating all Mexicans is a matter of responsible national health policy as well as social justice.
“Vaccines will start arriving little by little,” he said on February 15, during his daily morning press conference, a week after returning to public activities after contracting Covid-19.
“Today we launched our vaccination plan and it won’t stop. We will press ahead with the goal of vaccinating all the people, according to pre-established priorities,” the President added.
But there are already clear signs that not every Mexican is ready or willing to get a shot in the arm.
In Aldama, a small town of about 7,000 located in the central highlands of the southern Mexican state of Chiapas, some people say they will not get vaccinated, regardless of any vaccination plan or where the vaccine comes from.
“Why would I get vaccinated? I’m not sick. It wouldn’t be good if they tried to force us to get vaccinated. I don’t know,” said María Magdalena López Santís, an Aldama resident to CNN in broken Spanish.
Indigenous communities like Aldama have a history of mistrust toward the federal government. In the best of cases, community leaders say, they have been ignored. In the worst of cases, they’ve been subjected to land-grabs, discrimination, abuse and attacks. This time, it seems a lack of information and conspiracy theories that have spread in the region like wildfire are to blame for vaccine hesitancy.
Tomás López Pérez, Aldama’s town secretary, told CNN that people there, including himself, strongly believe vaccines can do more harm than good.
“People are not well informed regarding this. Since we don’t really know what vaccines are made of, we believe that they contain the [Covid-19] virus and that’s the main reason why people don’t want to get vaccinated,” López said.
Since many people in those towns communicate in their native dialects, government information about its Covid-19 pandemic strategy gets, in many cases, lost in translation.
But in a way, Aldama has also been fortunate. Its residents, mainly Tzotzil Mayans, rarely travel to big cities and very few people ever visit, sparing the town the worst of the pandemic — and meaning that many residents don’t see a need to be vaccinated.