More Vaccines and Cold Chain Equipment from US Government

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By Jem Smith
The Ministry of Health and Wellness (MOHW) is continuing its vaccination campaign but depends greatly on donations to supplement its stock. So far, we have received thousands of vaccines from several countries, including: India, the United Arab Emirates, Mexico, and Barbados. The Barbadian donation came through the Caribbean nation’s own endowment from the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access (COVAX). We will once again be second-hand beneficiaries of COVAX’s efforts. The United States government has committed $4 billion toward the global initiative for the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines to low income countries, Belize included. The US is currently in the second phase of its vaccination plan which includes the increased production of vaccines to be distributed, since the country already has sufficient vaccines itself. While the committment has been made for the vaccines to be donated to Belize, logistics are a different story. How many, when, and how those vaccines will make it to Belize are still to be decided but it is understood that those arrangements will take place in due time.
Aside from these vaccines, the US government donated cold chain equipment to Belize. The delivery of an energy efficient, ultralow temperature (ULT) freezer for the storage of COVID-19 vaccines, donated by the U.S. Government through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), was facilitated through the US Embassy. A handover ceremony was held at the National Vaccine Building in Belmopan. The ULT freezer, valued at $13,000 USD, can reach temperatures as low as negative 86 degrees Celsius and can store more than 9,000 multidose vials of COVID vaccines. The addition of the ULT freezer will create new options for the Government of Belize to procure and store any available COVID-19 vaccine requiring ultracold storage conditions. This includes the Pfizer vaccine, currently the only vaccine authorized to vaccinate children from ages 12 to 18. Creating capacity to vaccinate children ages 12 to 18 is particularly critical for Belize, where approximately 42% of the population is under the age of 18.
The U.S. government, through the CDC, has also pledged an additional USD $65,000 to support COVID-19 vaccine technical assistance in Belize. These funds will be used in policy, planning, and project development in the ongoing COVID vaccination campaign, including the hiring of additional medical personnel, specifically nurses to help administer COVID vaccines to rural and at-risk populations.