The Ministry of Health and Wellness received a second shipment of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine. One hundred and sixty-eight thousand doses of the vaccine was acquired through UNICEF’s partnership with the African Union’s African Vaccine Acquisition Trust (AVAT). The Ministry says the shipment arrived late yesterday evening on an Amerijet flight at the International airport. This shipment puts the doses of this vaccine to about three hundred thousand in-country. At an event in Orange Walk Town, Prime Minister John Briceno says many countries around the world are experiencing trouble in accessing vaccine. In Belize, Briceno says, the population has access to several types of vaccines. He says that there is enough vaccine to vaccinate every woman, man and child above the age of 12.
John Briceno, Prime Minister of Belize: “There are many countries in the world that do not have access to the vaccines. Most countries in the world do not have access to the vaccines. Here in Belize we have access to all of the vaccines in this country; AstraZeneca, the Johnson and Johnson, the Pfizer, we even have the Chinese one. So you could pick which one you want. In Central America, Guatemala they have a massive crisis because they do not have access to the vaccinations. We have enough vaccinations to vaccinate every man woman and child from age 12 to 150 years if you want to put it like that. We have it. Go get vaccinated. We have done wonderful work, we have done great work since we got in. The first thing we said we had to hold on to the pandemic to control the spread and we did that. In about a month and a half when we had the semi lockdown, remember when we got Christmas we couldn’t go visit our family ? We had that lockdown and by the end of January we had it under control. Just a few months ago we had less than ten persons infected, today we have hundreds because of the new Delta variant that spreads very quickly. And as much as we’re trying to caution people, as much as we’re trying to educate people to get vaccinated people are not listening and that is why right now ever other week as a government we’re noticing that as much as we don’t want to put stiffer restrictions we will have to get there more sooner than later.”
During his speech, Prime Minister Briceno underscored the importance for Belizeans getting vaccinated. He says that the health system is at the brink of collapse.
John Briceno, Prime Minister of Belize: “Presently we’re fighting this coronavirus pandemic and I wish that more people would wake up and realize what is in front of us. That the only way we can get back to some kind of normalcy, we can have “the new normal” is for us to be able to get vaccinated. We have to get vaccinated people. If any one of you haven’t gotten vaccinated speak to the doctors, speak to the nurses, they are at the brink of falling down. Our health system is at the brink. We’re at a crisis. I watched the news clip from Love FM where the Chief Nurse, the person in charge of the ICU she is saying every night when she closes her eyes all she sees is death. These people are going through some serious psychological challenges and we could be arrogantly, foolishly, stupidly going around and saying we’re not going to wear a mask and we’re not going to get vaccinated without realizing what our nurses and doctors and front line workers are doing for us. They’re putting themselves on the line. Some of them have even thought about committing suicide because of the stress, the emotional toll that they’re going through. But yet we want to be macho man and say we’re not going to wear our mask because this virus is a hoax or because you get vaccinated and you still get sick but nobody has ever said if you get vaccinated you won’t get sick, it just means that you will not die.”
PM Briceno also spoke on Belize’s path to economic recovery. He says that a major factor of the recovery plan is for Belizeans to get vaccinated.
John Briceno, Prime Minister of Belize: “From the numbers that we’re seeing we will probably be at a hundred and fifteen percent over 2019. We’re doing better than 2019. We’re talking about the overnight tourism. The economic growth that we’ve had for the second quarter we grew by over 22.3%. Tourism played an important part but for the first time agriculture grew by over 20%. Agriculture has been leading the economic recovery. But that economic recovery will not continue if we don’t do the right thing. If we don’t wear our masks, try to keep our physical distance, wash our hands and get vaccinated. I’m appealing to you all and to those that are listening to us on radio and TV land or the internet please get vaccinated. I’m begging you and appealing to you. The only way we can get our country back on its feet is by getting vaccinated. The government does not have money to be able to give you a check every week or to give you a bag of groceries every week and that in itself demeaning. What are you going to do with $150 every two weeks because that was what they were giving you back then. You need to work, you want to work so you can look after your family.”