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Mar 1, 2021

COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout Commences

The vaccine rollout exercise for the country began today. Unlike other countries where government leaders are among the first to be vaccinated, for Belize, it was frontline healthcare workers from COVID-19 units. News Five’s Duane Moody was there for the first shots.

 

Duane Moody, Reporting

It was a historic moment today at the House of Culture in Belize City as the country made it one step closer to achieving herd immunity from the deadly COVID-19 pandemic.  A trio of frontline healthcare workers received their first dose of the Astra Zeneca vaccine as the government commences its rollout plan. A total of five hundred frontline employees who work within COVID-19 units within public and private medical institutions will be administered the vaccine in this first bout.

 

Michel Chebat

Michel Chebat, Minister of Health & Wellness

“We are looking first at our healthcare workers, persons over sixty years and above and those with special conditions. That will be in our phase one. In phase two, we have our teachers, police officers and we also have in our phase two, the tourism sector. I want to make it clear that with the arrival of the hundred thousand eight hundred vaccines, we will be able to vaccinate more persons in the different phases at an earlier time.”

 

These one thousand doses of vaccines were a donation from the Government of Barbados to Belize. It has been confirmed that one hundred thousand eight hundred additional vaccines will arrive in Belize by the end of March, early April. These are being procured from the regional COVAX facility.

 

Natalia Largaespada Beer

Dr. Natalia Largaespada Beer, Maternal & Child Health Technical Advisor, M.O.H.W.

“In regards to the vaccine that we will be administering, Astra Zeneca, the effectiveness overall is seventy point four percent. The storage that is required for the vaccine is at room temperature plus two plus eight. We did an assessment of our cold chain and the result is that we have a robust cold chain installed in country.”

 

Not everyone is on board with the vaccinations. A recent survey showed that only fifty-three percent of healthcare workers have agreed to be vaccinated. Undeterred, and in an effort to set the example, as a survivor of Covid-19 himself, Prime Minister John Briceño emphasized that he does intend to get vaccinated.

 

John Briceño

Prime Minister John Briceño

“As prime minister when my turn comes, I will get vaccinated but I prefer others to go before me. I was mentioning to Minister Chebat that just on Saturday, I took an antigen test and it showed that my antibodies are very high so it would be best that somebody takes my turn because I don’t think I need it at this time. I rather others would take the vaccine so that we could protect them.”

 

Duane Moody for News Five.

 

Even as the rollout was happening this morning, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Immigration announced it too has succeeded in acquiring a donation. They say they twenty-five thousand COVID-19 vaccine doses are being given to Belize by the Government of India. This shipment is expected to arrive on March sixth.


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