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Around Two Hundred BDF Soldiers Yet to Receive the Jab

The latest Covid-19 infographic has shown that eight more persons have died due to COVID-19 complications. Of that number five persons were unvaccinated while three were fully vaccinated. The number of COVID deaths now stands at five hundred and fifty-six. Twenty-four persons remain hospitalized with nine persons in the Intensive Care Unit. An additional one hundred and seventeen new cases were confirmed while three hundred and five persons remain under investigation. While the Cayo District recorded the highest new cases with forty, Belize City recorded fifteen new cases. As it relates to the vaccination rates, the total number of persons who have received their first dose of a COVID vaccine is more than two hundred and eight thousand. Of that number, more than one hundred and ninety persons are fully vaccinated. That number is expected to increase given a new memo from the Ministry of Public Service mandating that essential workers and other public officers be vaccinated by December fifteen. Among that group are soldiers of the Belize Defence Force. According to Chief of Staff, Lieutenant Colonel Anthony Velasquez, there are about two hundred soldiers left to receive the vaccine.

Lt.Col. Anthony Velasquez, Chief of Staff, Belize Defence Force: “The regular force we have 78% of soldiers already vaccinated and the volunteer element we have 96% vaccinated so we have high numbers and everyday we have soldiers either getting their second dose or showing up for their first dose so it’s increase exponentially as we go along. So it’s as high as 78% in the regular force and 96% in the volunteer element.”

Reporter: Those two key figures are for first vaccination or full dose? 

Lt.Col. Anthony Velasquez, Chief of Staff, Belize Defence Force: “Okay well the 78% in the regular force is the total number of people vaccinated and out of that close to 50% is first dose and 29% is second dose. And in terms of the volunteers their total numbers are 96% and we have about 80% first dose and about 16% second dose.” 

Reporter: So in terms of an estimated figure how many soldiers in the regular and volunteer battalion have not received their first dose vaccine ? 

Lt.Col. Anthony Velasquez, Chief of Staff, Belize Defence Force: “If you ask for a figure I would say probably about maybe under two hundred.”

Reporter: Okay and the reason for that would be because they’re hesitant or are there medical conditions to factor in ?

Lt.Col. Anthony Velasquez, Chief of Staff, Belize Defence Force: “Well medical conditions do factor in and some people are hesitant however we speak to them every day to try to convince them that it’s in their best interest to take the vaccine.” 

Reporter: Is hesitant a light word or can I use resistant ?

Lt.Col. Anthony Velasquez, Chief of Staff, Belize Defence Force: “Well I would say hesitant, maybe anti vaxxer I don’t know but some people for some reason or the other decide make up their mind that the vaccine is not a good thing for them however like I said before we try to do our best to educate them that it is in their best interest to take the vaccine.”

Reporter: And come December 15 if they don’t get vaccinated what would happen in terms of penalties that they would face ?

Lt.Col. Anthony Velasquez, Chief of Staff, Belize Defence Force: “Well then it has been stated already that they will not be allowed to enter the workplace and they will be marked as absent.”

Reporter: Absent and their pay will be docked for that absent day ?

Lt.Col. Anthony Velasquez, Chief of Staff, Belize Defence Force: “Well once you’re absent then you don’t get paid.”

To date, Belize has seen twenty nine thousand three hundred and eighty six persons contracting Covid-19 since its first case was reported on March 23, 2020.