The U.S. Embassy facilitated 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) to the Ministry Health and Wellness. A handover ceremony was held today at the National Vaccine Building in the capital Belmopan. In attendance were Minister of Health and Wellness Michel Chebat, U.S. Embassy Chargé d’Affaires, a.i. Keith Gilges, and Ministry of Health and Wellness CEO Dr. Deysi Mendez.
The ULT freezer, valued at $13,000 USD, can reach temperatures as low as negative 86 degrees Celsius and 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.
In his remarks, Chargé Gilges emphasized, “Today’s donated ULT freezer will play an important role in bolstering Belize’s impressive vaccination campaign by creating the capacity to expand public access to lifesaving COVID-19 vaccines to adolescents and teenagers. Vaccinating young
Belizeans is therefore vitally important in helping move Belize along the path towards its eventual goal of controlling the spread of the virus and establishing a layer of community protection across the country.”
Keith Gilges – Charge d’Affaires, U.S Embassy “The COVID-19 pandemic is a worldwide problem that requires a global solution. The United States is committed to playing a lead role in the international COVID-19 response in partnership with the global community. Since joining the COVID-19 vaccine global access initiative, commonly known as COVAX, the United States has contributed 2 billion US dollars and pledged an additional 2 billion through 2022. I’m proud that Belize is one of many beneficiaries of this program, having received over 100 thousand vaccine doses through COVAX and an additional 138 thousand doses anticipated in the coming months. We’ve also launched partnerships to boost global vaccine manufacturing capacity to ensure equitable access across the world. Ensuring every Belizean has access to safe and effective immunizations goes beyond just supplying the doses. We are committed to helping Belize develop it’s capacity to administer vaccine throughout the country. Through the CDC the US government had pledged an additional 65 thousand US dollars to support COVID-19 technical assistance in Belize. These funds will be used primarily for policy planning and project development on the ongoing COVID immunization campaign, including the hiring of additional health care workers do deliver COVID vaccines to rural and at risk communities. Our goal is to slow the spread of the virus, boost disease surveillance efforts, improve care for affected individuals and mitigate the impact of the disease across Belize.”
Minister Chebat highlighted, “This ultralow freezer will benefit Belize by giving us the opportunity to acquire the Pfizer vaccine which is the only vaccine that is currently authorized to be administered to children 12 to18 years old.”