The Covid-19 vaccination campaign has begun in the Cayo District. A notice from the Ministry of Health has notified the public that on Tuesdays and Wednesdays the frontline workers will be vaccinated while citizens over sixty years old, and with underlying conditions will be vaccinated on Thursdays and Fridays. The roll out of the vaccination campaign was activated as the twenty five thousand jabs from India arrived in-country yesterday. Reporter Vejea Alvarez has the story.
Hon. John Briceno, Prime Minister of Belize: “India has been assisting countries with the vaccine so I sent him a letter and I hope to get a response shortly to see if we can get some vaccines from India. “
It was receipt of that letter along with dialogue with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and India’s Honorary Consul General to Belize Arun Hotchandani that resulted in the arrival of 25,000 COVID-19 vaccines. The shipment came in yesterday via the Philip Goldson International Airport. Coupled with last week’s shipment from Barbados of 1,000 vaccines Belize will have 26,000 of its citizens receiving the first dose of the AstraZeneca jab.
Hon. Michel Chebat, Minister of Health and Wellness: “We’re going to be giving 26,000 of our citizens an initial dose and when we get our supply from COVAX they’re gonna be getting their second dose. But this will certainly allow us to vaccinate all of our healthcare workers both in the private and the public sector as well as all of our citizens who are sixty years old and above and who have certain conditions such as HIV, cancer or renal failure at this time.”
Chief Executive Officer in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs told the media that they’re hopeful more jabs will be coming to Belize through bilateral relations.
Amalia Mai, Chief Executive Officer, Ministry of Foreign Affairs: “We’ve been promised a little bit more because we asked for a bigger donation but the first is 25,000 so we’ll continue to work the phones and do some more bilateral negotiations with them so that we can hopefully get the rest of the vaccines. This is the biggest batch of doses that we’re getting. I know it’s going to go a long way to continue vaccinating the healthcare workers, the vulnerable population, the elderly. I am diabetic so I’m looking forward to getting one of the vaccines myself.”
India’s Honorary Consul General to Belize, Arun Hotchandani, was also on hand at the airport yesterday. He expressed pride in having India’s contribution to Belize.
Arun Hotchandani, Honorary Consul General of India to Belize: “I’m extremely happy that today it is India that has come to the front line and with having gone through this dark pandemic last year I’m very happy and honored that India is the country that has stepped up to Belize and I think this is not going to be the last there’s gonna be continued great relations between our two countries.”
Minister of Health Michel Chebat explained that the donation resulted from a multipronged approach. With the vaccines now in country and the COVAX shipment anticipated Chebat says the first phase of the vaccination should be completed within a few weeks.
Hon. Michel Chebat, Minister of Health and Wellness: “This started with a conversation between myself and the Honorary Consul of India and naturally because it’s between governments it had to be ramped up to our Minister of Foreign Affairs who then made the formal contacts through his counterpart and that was followed up with a telephone call from our Prime Minister to the Prime Minister of India to seal this deal. We now have this 25,000 doses we expect that by the end of March to mid April we will have the entire phase one rolled out.”
As of March 5 up to 996 front line workers have been given the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccination.