Country becomes 4th in region to receive vaccines from US
Etienne reiterates commitment to support Haiti in COVID fight
PORT-AU-PRINCE, HAITI — Haiti received 500,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines donated by the United States through the COVAX facility yesterday.
The country, which is still reeling from the brutal assassination of its President Jovenel Moïse last week, is the fourth in the region to receive these donated shipments, after Honduras, El Salvador and Bolivia, with a total of 4,008,000 doses delivered so far.
The donation is part of the US government’s plans to increase COVID-19 vaccination coverage in other countries around the world, counter new waves of infection and prioritize vaccination of healthcare workers and other vulnerable populations in neighboring countries in need of vaccines.
The US government has pledged to donate some 12 million COVID-19 vaccine doses to countries in the Caribbean and Latin America, with The Bahamas anticipated to be among the recipients.
Haiti’s Minister of Public Health and Population Dr Marie Gréta Roy Clément declared: “These vaccines, which have obtained WHO (World Health Organization) emergency use license, will be administered free of charge to the Haitian population.
“In public health, vaccination remains one of the most effective interventions. This first allocation of vaccines puts an end to a long period of waiting; an end to a long period of waiting not only for the Haitian population but also for the people of the region, who were very concerned that Haiti was the only country in the Americas that had not yet introduced the COVID 19 vaccine.”
The Bahamas government has banned travel from Haiti since February, citing that nation’s COVID-19 response among the concerns.
Pan American Health Organization Director Dr Carissa F Etienne hailed the arrival of Haiti’s vaccines as “quite promising”, but acknowledged “now the challenge is to get them to the people that need them the most”.
“PAHO, along with other partners, is committed to supporting the Haitian people in these uncertain times and urges other international organizations to join us in supporting the COVID response.”
PAHO’s Revolving Fund and local representation in Haiti have worked with the US and Haitian authorities and the COVAX facility on logistics and other relevant aspects to ensure that these vaccines arrived promptly and safely and are ready for deployment as soon as possible.
“Over the last few weeks, PAHO has delivered significant personal protective equipment, helped expand care for COVID-19 patients and provided thousands of tests and laboratory materials to strengthen surveillance activities in Haiti,” said Etienne.
“We have also helped train community health workers and have supported the Ministry of Health in preparing for COVID-19 vaccine introduction and setting up new systems to dispel rumors and COVID misinformation.”