Belize’s roll out of the COVID19 vaccines is expected to ramp up after the arrival of the first batch of 33,600 doses of the purchased Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines in country. Previous to this Belize been relying on surplus donations from Barbados and India and they were being provided mostly to the above age 60 and at risk groups. Uptake of this vaccine brand has met with limited response from Belizeans some of who are opting to wait for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines that have been approved for use in the U.S.A. Image above: Rossana Briceño, wife of Prime Minister Johnny Briceño.
The vaccines arrived today at 11:30 a.m. at the Philip Goldson International Airport. Michel Chebat, Minister of Health and H.E. Rossana Briceño, Special Envoy for the Development of Families and Children were on hand to receive the first shipment of vaccines. They were joined by Ambassador Amalia Mai, CEO in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade; Dr. Noreen Jack, PAHO/WHO Representative in Belize; Ms. Alison Parker, UNICEF Representative in Belize; and Mr. Nicolaus A. Hansmann, European Union Representative in Belize.
The COVAX Facility is the global alliance ensuring equitable access to vaccines to countries that may otherwise face challenges in getting COVID-19 vaccines. Belize is expected to receive a total of 238,800 doses through the COVAX facility in the first two quarters of the year. The delivery from the COVAX Facility was facilitated through the PAHO Revolving Fund.
During a short ceremony on the tarmac, Minister Chebat said, “We extend appreciation for the team effort coordinated through our partners, PAHO/WHO, UNICEF and IDB for negotiating, purchasing, and handling the shipment logistics on behalf of Belize and the other 36 countries participating in the COVAX Facility.”
“Seeing this arrival of the vaccines through COVAX Facility is very reassuring and it means that more people will be able to be protected from COVID-19,” said Dr. Noreen Jack, PAHO/WHO Representative in Belize. “We will continue to work with the Ministry of Health & Wellness and the country to support vaccination along with the known public health and social measures that can help stop the spread of COVID-19, protect health services, and save lives.”
Alison Parker, UNICEF Representative for Belize stated, “the arrival of the vaccines to Belize strengthens the national response to rebuilding our society and regaining a sense of normalcy. Children have been most impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, and are similarly the greatest beneficiaries when protection systems and structures can function, to offer support to families and communities.”
The COVID-19 Vaccination Campaign continues as Belize now enters Phase 2.
Tourism authorities have announced that the Ministry of Health has decided that 8,000 doses of the vaccine should go to the tourism industry, and a survey of stakeholders says that about 80% want to be immunized.
This morning, representatives of the Belize Hotel Association collaborated with the Ministry of Health and Wellness to get an early start in the vaccination process for its members.
Ted Tejada – President Belize Hotel Association and hotel manager “Right now, we know that there is a lot of uncertainty and a lot of fear among employees. I’ve had about 10 employees who came to see me, and they wanted to know why they should be vaccinated. I am very happy to have done it. We know that we have to be an example to our employees. I have done quite a bit of research, and I do understand that this is a necessary thing that each of us has to make and that is a private decision.”