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Ministry of Health and Wellness urges vaccination for COVID-19 – but where are the vaccines?

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Posted: Thursday, May 12, 2022. 5:41 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: While a total of 211,355 persons have been fully vaccinated, that still represents just 49 percent of the overall population, according to the Ministry of Health and Wellness. 

A more heartening statistic is that two out of every three Belizeans eligible to be vaccinated have received at least two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.  

But that still leaves almost one in every three Belizeans vulnerable, and the unvaccinated are at a greater risk of dying as a result of COVID-19, says Doctor Natalia Beer, the head of the Ministry of Health’s vaccination drive. To emphasize this point, she shared a graph that shows that the unvaccinated are 24 times more likely to die of COVID-19, than the vaccinated.  

“Remember we are aiming at achieving eighty-five percent coverage, so, we are pretty far away from that. … After June first, 2021, when we started with the second dose for the primary series of vaccines, we can consider that from that point, the risk of infection and death is equal for everyone, persons that are vaccinated and persons that are not vaccinated. So, what we did is look back at the data from June first, 2021 to date. We used standard methods for age mortality rates, to compare the risks of death between being vaccinated or an unvaccinated person. As you can see there that COVID-19 mortality rate, or death, for every ten thousand people in Belize, for fully vaccinated is 1.9, for persons that are not vaccinated it is 48.42 for every ten thousand persons,” she explained during a Wednesday Zoom press call. 

Meanwhile, Belize has no AstraZeneca vaccines in-country, and after May 30, no Pfizer vaccines either as the last batch will expire after that time. Only the one-shot Janssen vaccine will be available. 

Dr. Beer says they’re not gone yet, however: “I want to take the opportunity to remind the public that the Government of Belize has procured more than a hundred percent of the vaccines needed for persons eligible in Belize to get the vaccine. We have been, as Doctor Diaz mentioned, available for any strategy to get the vaccines in arms. Now, the vaccines usually have a short expiration period. So, we will continue vaccinating until the last day the vaccines expire. And, persons would have to wait until we restock with vaccines.”

 

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