The Ministry of Health and Wellness and the Government of Belize are pleased to announce that Belize will be receiving its first shipment of the COVID-19 vaccine from the Government and people of Barbados.
The donation of 1,000 single-dose Astra Zeneca COVID-19 vaccines will be arriving at the Philip Goldson International Airport by cargo flight tomorrow, February 24, 2021. Representatives of the Ministry of Health and Wellness will be present tomorrow to officially receive the donation.
Hon. Michel Chebat, Minister of Health and Wellness, expresses gratitude on behalf of the Prime Minister of Belize, Hon. John Briceño, and the people of Belize for the donations that were fast-tracked to arrive almost immediately after the acceptance of an offer from Belize’s CARICOM sister country.
Belize continues in bilateral negotiations with other countries to source and buy additional COVID-19 vaccines for the country. The Ministry anticipates as well the arrival of the COVAX vaccines at the end of March or the beginning of April.
The Ministry asks the public´s cooperation to reduce the rate of infections. The public is encouraged to visit the public health facilities or rapid testing sites in their area as advertised. Please continue to follow the Ministry’s advice by wearing a mask when in public, staying six feet apart, washing and sanitizing hands often, and staying at home unless conducting essential business.
Re: Belize to Receive First Shipment of COVID-19 Vaccines
#548387 02/25/2105:25 AM02/25/2105:25 AM
First Shipment of COVID-19 Vaccines Arrives in Belize
A donation of 1,000 Astrazeneca COVID-19 vaccines arrived this morning at the Philip Goldson International Airport by cargo flight. Dr. Melissa Diaz Musa and Dr. Julio Sabido received the donation on behalf of the Ministry of Health and Wellness.
The Ministry is very excited about this first shipment of the COVID-19 vaccines donated to Belize. This will allow for the commencement of the vaccination of Belize’s frontline health workers early next week. The vaccines are currently in storage at the National Vaccine Storage Facility at Western Regional Compound in Belmopan.
The Minister of Health and Wellness, Hon. Michel Chebat, expressed his appreciation for the donation given to Belize by the Government and people of Barbados.
A press conference to share more information on the vaccine donation and rollout is scheduled for Monday, March 1, 2021, at 10:30 a.m. The press conference will be hosted by the Prime Minister Hon. John Briceño along with the Minister of Health and Wellness, Hon. Michel Chebat, and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Hon. Eamon Courtenay.
DOSES ON THE TARMAC
At 7:00 this morning, the first 1,000 Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccines landed on the tarmac of the Philip Goldson International Airport. They arrived via Miami on an Amerijet cargo flight, a small but major donation from the people and Government of Barbados.
A sovereign event marked by a grateful acceptance and the spark of hope that will come with inoculating the first 500 of Belize's frontline healthcare workers. Minister of Health Michel Chebat could not be present this morning, as he was attending to his father's funeral, but the former Acting DHS Melissa Diaz was there to receive the cold-cold-packaged container.
The Ministry of health and wellness sent out this pre-recorded message in which the minister made an ecstatic announcement of the arrival.
Hon. Michel Chebat, Minister of Health & Wellness "I am happy to announce today the arrival of this first amount of vaccines for our people. While it is a small amount of vaccines it is a big step for us to confront and continue the against the Covid19 pandemic. To this end I wish to thank the government and people of Barbados for their kind and generous donation of these vaccinations. As we have committed these vaccines will be distributed to our healthcare workers throughput our country. Vaccines saves lives and I believe in the Covid19 vaccine. I will take the vaccine when it's my turn and urge you to take it too. When your turn comes get vaccinated, be Covid19 safe."
500 JABS FOR FRONTLINE WORKERS
And while Chebat urged Belizeans to take advantage of their turn at the vaccine, first in line are 500 healthcare workers, those who have and continue to fight on the frontlines of the pandemic.
This morning we heard from Maternal and Child Health Specialist, Dr. Natalia Beer who told us that this essential group selected from a priority list are those that work in the Flu Clinics and the COVID ICU.
Dr. Natalia Beer, Maternal and Child health "We have a total of 5000 healthcare workers, public and private sector and we definitely will start with the first target group which is the healthcare workers, we don't have enough for all, we know that, so we will start with those working in the COVID units and at the Flu clinics."
"We are starting with 500 persons because 1000 doses represent 500 persons receiving first and second doses, so we will start with the first 500 and that will start on Monday of next week."
58% IS AS HIGH AS WE GO
And if protecting loved ones is the goal, many will be distressed to find out that vaccine distribution is not yet approved for the very young. At this point, doses are only recommended to be administered to those 18 and older.
That puts Belize, a country with a very young population, in an interesting dilemma. The vaccination of every residents 18 and older, would only put us at a 58% herd immunity. Here's how Dr. Beer broke down this dilemma.
Dr. Natalia Beer "The AstraZeneca vaccines is recommended for persons 18 years and older and what does that represent from the total population 58%. So we are hoping that throughout the coming months we can have other options vaccines that can cover lower age group. I know Pfizer start from 16, so we have 2 cohorts there that we can look at, but the vaccines are being also being tried in other population to see if they can include younger population. Until then our target is 58%."
IMMUNITY WITHOUT A VACCINE
But while 58% is the current mark, in truth, Belize's natural immunity will exceed that percentage.
That's because of the 12,271 Belizeans who have, to date, tested positive for the disease.
Many of them will have a period of natural immunity. And this morning we got an explanation from public health specialist Dr. Marcelo Coyi of how that natural immunity helps us in the fight against COVID 19:
Reporter "When we get that information, how will the numbers of people who have been infected, has confirmed as positive and even further on those asymptomatic ones, how will they contribute to herd immunity?"
Dr. Marcelo Coyi, Public Health Specialist "They do, but we don't know how long that immunity will last. Even though a person has had Covid19 infection clinically, or they are positive because of the anti-body test, they are still require to do the vaccine when it becomes available. Because we don't know naturally how long it will last for. It may be for 3 month, 6 months, a year - but we do know that the anti-body response to the vaccines are better and last longer."