Belmopan – 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 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.” 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.”
The U.S. government, through the CDC, has also pledged an additional $65,000 USD 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. These donations reflect the U.S. government’s deep commitment to help stop the spread of COVID-19 in Belize and to mitigate its impact on its citizens.