We asked the Health Minister for an update on the current stores of the COVID vaccines in the country, the looming expiration date on those doses, and how those variables could affect availability for the public in the weeks to come.
He said that Belize should be getting a second batch of vaccines under the COVAX facility in less than 2 weeks' time:
Hon. Michel Chebat - Minister of Health and Wellness
"The second batch of vaccines through the COVAX facility is estimated to arrive in the country around the 17th of May, so that we're well on our way with the planned arrivals, with the expected arrivals."
"The AstraZeneca vials, which the vaccine we're currently using, each vial brings 10 doses, and so, we're vaccinating 10 persons per vial."
"We are monitoring vaccines to ensure that we have no expired vaccines. I can tell you that we are about to embark on a month's vaccination campaign. So, we are guaranteeing as a Ministry of Health and Wellness that we will not allow any of our vaccines to expire. We are going to make sure that they get into arms before that time comes."
"Second doses have actually, this week, persons who had already gotten the first dose are now eligible to get their second dose."
When Will the Second Dose Be Administered?
Twelve weeks after getting your first jab, you are to return to a vaccination center to receive your second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. For those who were among the first to be inoculated, within the next two weeks, that second jab is due. Doctor Beer says that for those frontline healthcare workers, it is recommended that their second dose is taken now.
Dr. Natalia Largaespada Beer, Maternal & Child Health Technical Advisor, M.O.H.W.
“The second dose can be administered between eight weeks and twelve after given the first dose. For healthcare workers, we are stressing that they get their second dose now; eight weeks have passed since the first dose and we want to make sure that they are well protected, they are the persons who will be in contact if we should have an increase in cases of COVID-19. The rest of the population can wait until twelve weeks to get their second dose. But of course, if persons sixty years because some of them we did give them appoint for eight weeks and if they show up, they will get their second dose. But the recommendation is eight to twelve weeks. So we are asking those that are not sixty years and older if they can wait and little and then we prioritise healthcare workers and persons sixty years and older.”