WASHINGTON - All Caribbean countries will receive COVID-19 vaccine shipments by “early next month” through the COVAX Facility, Dr. Carissa Etienne, director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), said Wednesday.
COVAX is a global alliance of governments, global health organizations, manufacturers, scientists, private sector groups and philanthropic organizations to ensure equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines. Earlier this month, Jamaica became the first Caribbean country to receive vaccines through the COVAX Facility. Additional doses are scheduled to arrive this week in Suriname and Belize.
“PAHO is doing all that it can to accelerate access to vaccines in our region,” said Etienne in a Caribbean national Weekly report. Etienne added that Caribbean countries must work cooperatively to “explore different mechanisms to expand the pool of available vaccines,” noting that vaccine supplies are limited.
Antigua and Barbuda recently announced a plan to vaccinate tourism workers. Belize this month updated the country’s COVID-19 protocols to permit travelers who have been vaccinated for COVID-19 to enter the country without providing proof of a negative test result.
Etienne said COVID-19 cases are increasing in Antigua and Barbuda, Aruba, Cuba, Curacao and Jamaica, illustrating the need for governments to “scale up vaccination among our most vulnerable populations.”
Caribbean residents and travelers should continue to follow public health guidelines regarding masks, hand washing and social distancing, “especially during the upcoming Easter holidays,” Etienne.