Belize - Belize News - - Great Belize Productions - Belize Breaking News
Home » Health » Healthy Living: Belize’s Vaccine Access
Feb 4, 2021

Healthy Living: Belize’s Vaccine Access

Belize’s access to the coveted COVID-19 vaccine is progressing.  The first batch of vaccines should be available in about two months.  The Ministry of Health and Wellness established several committees to prepare for the eventual vaccine rollouts.  Those include the National Coordinating Committee, which consists of professional associations and ministry officials.  The National Immunisation Technical Group or NITAG comprises independent health officials and a former Regional Immunisation Expert from PAHO.  This group looks at the scientific data and provides recommendations and also includes Ministry of Health officials. Lastly, there is the National Technical Working Group, which is planning for the vaccine rollout.  Doctor Natalia Beer is the Maternal and Child Health Technical Advisor with the Ministry of Health and a National Technical Working group member. She shares the latest on the vaccine progress in tonight’s Healthy Living.


Marleni Cuellar, Reporting

Belize will most likely access the first batch of COVID-19 vaccines through the COVAX Facility.  The facility coordinated by GAVI, the Global Vaccine Alliance, aims to ensure equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines. On Wednesday, COVAX’s first interim distribution forecast was released. 


Natalia Beer

Dr. Natalia Beer, Member, National Technical Working Group, M.O.H.W.

“We received the next notice yesterday, the one from the twenty-ninth of January in two batches. The first shipment would be about thirty-five percent, about thirty-five thousand doses.  The one from yesterday is saying that we can receive as much as forty thousand doses in the first shipment. So as the vaccines are becoming available then the numbers start moving up.”


That first batch is a percentage of Belize’s total allocation through COVAX, about one hundred thousand eight hundred doses of vaccines.  The first batch will include the Astra Zeneca vaccine and is expected to be in country at the end of March or early April.  The ministry has been finalising the rollout of the vaccine.  Doctor Beer notes that the ministry has some experience in this type of rollout as they had overseen the rollout of the adult immunisation program when the country first got access to the M.M.R. vaccine.  This time though, it is a larger population to be vaccinated, and the doses will be received in smaller batches.  The Astra Zeneca vaccine is administered in two doses. One question still to be answered is how Belize will make use of its first batch.


Dr. Natalia Beer

“We will need to finalise that decision. Some countries are providing the first dose with the small amount of vaccines they are receiving. Some countries choose to vaccinate according to schedule. So we would have to wait and see what are the amount of vaccines available and what is the best decision for Belize. We have a window period up to one month or up to three months to administer a second dose. Theoretically, the first batch is due first quarter and the second batch is due second quarter.”


Marleni Cuellar

“So that would mean sometime by summer you would get the second batch in?”


Dr. Natalia Beer



Some of the determining factors will be the availability of vaccines and the epidemiological profile of the country.  And now, who will get first access? 


Dr. Natalia Beer

“One has to consider the way how COVID-19 affects the population. The need for healthcare services outside of the COVID-19 disease. The exposure of the healthcare workers, which is greater than any other population of people who may be positive or not positive. So worldwide, it has been agreed that healthcare workers are top of the list.  In our case, it would be healthcare workers from the private and public sector. And the second would be the elderly because of the increase in mortality rate with the increase of age when it comes to COVID-19.  And then from there, we would focus on persons with risk factors in the other age groups.”


Work is ongoing to enhance the current cold chain storage in country to ensure that Belize can store other vaccines like the Pfizer vaccines, which requires ultra-cold storage.  Communication messages to help Belizeans understand the importance of getting vaccinated are being developed. 


Dr. Natalia Beer

“I don’t foresee much resistance because COVID-19 is not like other respiratory infections that we have. We must remind ourselves that initially, we thought that it was a respiratory infection, but now we know that the receptors for the virus to enter the body and cause damage is present in many organs. We know it’s a systemic disease and the third factor that we need to remember is that we are having patients now clinically recovered or laboratory recovered, and they are still having signs and symptoms related to COVID-19.” 


Marleni Cuellar

“For how long?”


Dr. Natalia Beer

“We don’t know. So probably we are facing a new type of chronic illness secondary to COVID-19.”


Which is all the more reason, Doctor Beer expressed, that Belizeans should want to get vaccinated when it becomes available.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

Advertise Here

Comments are closed