So how will the vaccine be administered and what process will the ministry follow? A simulation of the vaccination process was carried out a few days ago where gaps were identified and closed. Dozens of vaccination sites have been identified across the country including in remote villages to ensure that the vaccine is available to everyone. But not everyone would be so willing to receive the AstraZeneca vaccines. Dr Natalia Largaespada Beer told reporter Hipolito Novelo that the goal is to achieve herd immunity through vaccination.
Hipolito Novelo, Love FM News: Dozens of vaccinations sites have been identified across the country. These sites are medical facilities that the Ministry of Health and Wellness selected as locations where willing Belizeans will be vaccinated. Necessary steps will be put in place to ensure that the process is effective and successful.
Dr.Natalia Largaespada Beer, Technical Advisor, Maternal and Childcare Unit: “In health facilities it’s much easier because everything is there ready. The exercise that we did was working outside of a health facility, what are the different stations that will be needed for the administration of the vaccine so we had positive results. We identified the gaps in the way we are planning to set up the outreach vaccination sites but for the health facilities that is easy because it will be done by the health facility, by hospital.”
Hipolito Novelo, Love FM News: The Government of Belize, like many governments across the world has decided that herd immunity through vaccination is the best choice to successfully win the battle against the COVID-19 virus.
Dr.Natalia Largaespada Beer, Technical Advisor, Maternal and Childcare Unit: “The evidence is clear that we are dealing with a disease that is causing severe illness, hospitalizations and deaths and if this disease could be prevented with a vaccine well that is the best option for any person. Governments around the world have decided that it’s best to fight the pandemic by herd immunity through vaccination and not waiting until 70% or 85% of the population is ill, risking these persons to die unnecessarily from a disease that could be prevented with a vaccine.”
Hipolito Novelo, Love FM News: The vaccination process involves five phases and GOB’s intention is to vaccinate everyone who is 18 years or older, or 58% of the population. But being vaccinated doesn’t mean you’re cured.
Dr.Natalia Largaespada Beer, Technical Advisor, Maternal and Childcare Unit: “Remember it’s a new vaccine, data is being collected as we speak so we have to wait on those results to measure what level of protection against the infection. We know that it reduces the transmissibility but there is transmission that can occur but what they’re certain of with all the vaccines is that it reduces the severe illness, hospitalization and death.”
Hipolito Novelo, Love FM News: For the first phase more than thirty persons will be vaccinated including health workers, persons older than 60 years, persons with diverse ability and members of the National Assembly and Judiciary. Phase two will include more than 17,000 vaccinations for police officers, customs officers, immigration officers, tourism workers, teachers, transport workers and prison guards. Phase three will include more than 12,000 vaccinations for the BDF and Coast Guard, Firefighters and utility workers. Phase 4 will see the vaccination of 10,000 public officers and the final phase will see the vaccination of more than 145,000. Persons under this phase are those between the ages 18 and 59 not covered in the previous phases. But the Ministry of Health will face a certain challenge in rolling out its vaccination process, hesitation and resistance to the vaccine will undoubtedly be a hurdle that the Ministry will have to overcome to achieve herd immunity and for the ministry to do so it’s educational campaign must be effective.
Dr.Natalia Largaespada Beer, Technical Advisor, Maternal and Childcare Unit: “With the acceptance COVID-19 vaccine is just like any other vaccine that requires providing information for persons to make an informed decision of receiving the vaccine and I’m pretty sure that if people comprehend the objective behind the introduction of the COVID-19 vaccine I don’t see why someone would say no. If the person needs more information I mean they can seek further information to finally make their decision but it’s a collective investment, it’s not just an individual commitment to fight off the COVID-19. I am taking the vaccine because I need to protect those who cannot receive the vaccine.”
Hipolito Novelo, Love FM News: Persons who are younger than 18 years old will not be receiving the AstraZeneca vaccine because it has not been tested in that age group.