The deployment of COVID-19 vaccines in the Caribbean and across the Americas under COVAX is anticipated to begin at the end of March. COVAX, a coalition led by WHO and Gavi to ensure equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines, has notified countries in the Americas of the estimated dose allocation for the first phase of vaccine delivery in a letter to health authorities, the Pan American Health Organization reported January 31. Thanks to initial funding from the IDB of about $400,000, Belize has paid the first portion of our commitment to the COVAX facility, covering about 30% of our population. Countries in the Americas participating in COVAX that received letters are:
- Antigua and Barbuda
- Commonwealth of The Bahamas
- British Virgin Islands
- Costa Rica
- Dominican Republic
- El Salvador
- St. Kitts and Nevis
- Saint Lucía
- Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
- Trinidad and Tobago
As one of six nations that will receive support from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) for the rollout of a nationwide COVID-19 vaccination program, Belize aims to secure 120,000 vaccines in or before April 2021.
In a virtual press conference January 29, the Ministry of Health and Wellness in Belize informs the public of its upcoming Vaccine Education Campaign as well as its Expanded Rapid Testing Campaign in efforts to reach out to high-risk institutions and businesses. The Ministry’s officials will be conducting door-to-door rapid testing and emphasizing COVID-19 prevention measures. Additionally, the Ministry urges the public to continue to wear a face mask properly in public, maintain consistent physical distancing, avoid social gatherings, and wash and sanitize hands often. In the meantime, Belize encourages citizens to stay at home unless conducting essential business.
The goal is to provide vaccines for at least 20% of the population in each country participating in COVAX to protect those most at risk for severe forms of COVID-19. In Latin America and the Caribbean, 37 countries will receive vaccines through COVAX, including Belize. Of these, 27 will do so with their own financing and 10 will do so at no cost due to their economic condition or population size.