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Belize received 33,600 doses of AstraZeneca vaccine yesterday via the COVAX Facility, a partnership between the Government of Belize, Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), the Vaccine Alliance Gavi, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), the World Health Organization (WHO), and UNICEF.

This arrival to Belize is the second in a series of shipments of vaccines to enter the country through the COVAX Facility in its effort to deliver at least two billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines by the end of 2021. The shipment signals another milestone in a historic effort to ensure equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines globally in what will be the largest vaccine procurement and supply operation in history.

As Belize continues to call out for persons in phase one, two, and three of the national deployment plan, the arrival of the vaccines are a timely replenishment as current stock in country approach their expiration in date.

Hon. Michel Chebat, Minister of Health & Wellness, was pleased about the arrival yesterday and recognizes the effort of each of the 48,515 persons vaccinated up to May 10, 2021. He noted, "By getting vaccinated we are all contributing to contain the negative outcomes associated to COVID-19. This shipment has arrived two days before administering the last doses of the current stock."

"The arrival of this new shipment of vaccines is reassuring because this means that those who have received their first doses can now receive their second dose without delays," said Dr. Noreen Jack, PAHO/WHO Representative of Belize. "Additionally, using a platform like COVAX ensures fair and equitable access to the COVID-19 vaccinations for countries like Belize to keep their population protected against Sars-CoV-2."

Alison Parker, UNICEF Representative for Belize stated, "The current situation in several parts of the world underscores why we cannot grow lax in our approach to fighting this pandemic. We must remain vigilant and continue the important task of protection and prevention - vaccinating our population to increase immunity and protect the vulnerable among us as grandmothers, parents, and teachers are crucial to the safety, wellbeing, and protection of children. By staying the course, we can reduce the number of persons that contract COVID-19 and continue on our steady and safe path to returning our citizenry, especially the children, to a state of normalcy."

The Ministry of Health & Wellness reiterates the call for persons whose phases have been called to get vaccinated. The public is reminded that even after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, persons are to continue to follow COVID-19 guidelines and wear masks properly in public, maintain physical distancing, and wash and sanitize hands often. Please stay at home and call the Ministry's hotline at 0-800-664-2273 for more information.