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Mar 23, 2021

MOH Urges 60+ Group to Get Vaccinated!

Over the past month, the Ministry of Health and Wellness received two batches of vaccines; one thousand Astra-Zeneca vaccines from Barbados and twenty-five thousand from India.  So, in March, the ministry began to administer the vaccines in phases from the two shipments received.  But as we found out today, vaccinations among one target group are very low.  The ministry wants those people to go in because they fall in the group of people who are likely to develop serious complications if they contract the virus. Reporter Andrea Polanco attended a virtual briefing with the press today and has the following story.


Andrea Polanco, Reporting

On March first the Ministry of Health began to rollout the COVID-19 vaccine – to date a little over sixteen thousand people have been vaccinated in Belize. The rollout started with healthcare workers. In the second group of phase one, the targets are those sixty years and older. This is the group that runs the risk of complications, and even death associated with the virus. But the Ministry of Health has been having a tough time to meet its target of twenty-five thousand for this sixty and over group – to date only eight thousand four hundred persons have gone in. Now, the Ministry of Health is appealing to the caregivers and family members of this target group.


Natalia Largaespada Beer

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

“For them to bring their relatives to receive the vaccine. We know that early population require the support for third persons.  The vaccines are there to save lives and the ones that are most critical are the sixty and over hence we need to get the support from all the agencies and stakeholders to reach this population. To date, we have vaccinated sixteen thousand two persons. The population sixty years and older the target is twenty-five thousand and we have so far thirty-three point six percent of this target. So, we definitely require support from all stakeholders to help us to get this population to the vaccination sites.”


According to Doctor Beer, the issues of access to vaccination centers and fears about the vaccines may be responsible for the low turnout in the sixty and older target group.


Dr. Natalia Largaespada Beer

“Access to transportation – not having someone who really cares for them to come out and fear in our elders is another issue that we have found. The negative information has been spread that is creating unnecessary fear in the target population. I say unnecessary fear based on the results of the experts after the review of the cases that they were reviewing in Europe.”


In order to fully move on to phase two which includes the teachers police officers, the judiciary, customs and immigration, the Ministry of Health and Wellness needs to vaccinate more persons in the sixty and above age category to take the vaccines.


Dr. Natalia Largaespada Beer

“These are continuous – the vaccination of the healthcare workers and the vaccination of the sixty and older. But we need to increase the vaccination of persons sixty years and older for us to officially open phase two.”


Doctor Beer of the Ministry Health wants the public to know that the vaccine is safe.


Dr. Natalia Largaespada Beer

“The injections will have redness, swelling and pain and the other side effects like headache, joint pain, muscle ache and body pain and fever – for all of those you have medications to deal with it.   The major side effects are mild and with the second dose are even milder and if you compare that with COVID-19 – it is just hours or two days feeling discomfort compared to COVID-19.”


Reporting for News Five, I’m Andrea Polanco.


By early April, the government is expecting the first shipment from COVAX thirty-three thousand six hundred doses.

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.

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