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Jul 1, 2021

The Great Vaccine Rush; Belizeans Line Up for Free Shots!

If you passed by Swift Hall or Central Health Region clinics today, you probably noticed some long lines. This follows Wednesday’s announcement by the Government of Belize that persons eighteen years old and over are now eligible to receive their COVID-19 jabs.  And the mandate that frontline workers only have thirty days to get their jab or start submitting negative COVID tests.  It’s part of a countrywide push by the Ministry of Health and Wellness that includes a new campaign launched.  News Five’s Isani Cayetano was out in Belize City today, talking with those who got vaccinated.


Isani Cayetano, Reporting

Since eight o‘clock this morning, there has been a surge in the number of persons lining up to get inoculated.  Across the country, there is a concerted effort to get as many residents vaccinated against COVID-19.    The push comes hard on the heels of an announcement made by the Ministry of Health and Wellness on Wednesday.  Here in Belize City, vaccine centers, including Swift Hall, have been overflowing.


Mariseli Soberanis

Mariseli Soberanis, Counselor, Wesley College

“It is each person’s conscious decision that they have to do their own research and so I don’t feel pressured by anyone to get vaccinated, but I feel that it is important especially with the daily interactions, you know.  For me, being at a school with a population of seven hundred and fifty students, it is important for me to be safe and also for the students who are under eighteen that I am safe working with them.”


It’s a similar sentiment being shared by Juliet Ramirez, a primary school teacher at St. Joseph.  Notwithstanding government’s position, Ramirez has done a very basic cost-benefit analysis.  It is easier to get vaccinated for free, than having to produce a negative COVID test every two weeks which can be quite costly.


Juliet Ramirez

Juliet Ramirez, Teacher, St. Joseph School

“This is my second vaccination and I agree that teachers need to be fully vaccinated; not only for us, for our colleagues, our administration and also for the children.  And I believe that if a teacher is fully vaccinated, the parents would feel more comfortable sending their children to the class.  Also, when it comes to taking the PCR every two weeks, I believe that getting the two vaccines is much cheaper and also, if you have to take the PCR every two weeks you would need to take time off from your work, and so I think it’s better that you get yourself fully vaccinated.”


Also getting his second jab was podcaster Brent Toombs.  After waiting in line for forty minutes, he was given another dose of the AstraZeneca serum.


Brent Toombs

Brent Toombs, Podcaster

“Hopefully, what we see today with, you know, increased traffic at the vaccine centers is going to continue but it also means that the Ministry of Health and Wellness is going to have to adjust how they administer the vaccine because we don’t want lineups like this to become a detriment to people coming out.  And I think also, [that] employers are going to have to consider accommodating their employees.  If someone wants or needs to take time off work because you can only get the vaccine really during business hours, that they should be accommodating that almost like an election, where somebody is allowed to be away from work for this purpose.”


For Mariseli Soberanis, who brought her aging mother to get vaccinated, it is a decision that the entire family has taken.


Mariseli Soberanis

“It’s very simple and it’s very easy, you know, we’re not new to vaccines.  My daughter who is four, you know, we’ve done it several times over a lifetime.  So we’re used to getting vaccinated and I know because of this it’s new for everyone to get this new vaccine, so that’s why it’s the nervousness because it hasn’t been around long enough as people have said, but it’s a very simple and easy process.”


With all the talk about vaccine hesitancy, we asked Toombs for his take on the general doubtfulness.


Brent Toombs

“So I haven’t had a lot discussion with people who are vaccine hesitant other than just maybe anonymous, you know, random Facebook posts.  But, you know, my group of friends and the people that I am close to and regularly communicate, everybody seems to be on the same page which I guess is okay, but we do need a wider dialogue, I think, with people and bringing in the vaccine hesitant people together in the same forum with people that are not adverse to getting vaccinated and talk it out and figure out why people are adverse.”


Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

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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