Officials offer new promises that Haiti will soon get its first vaccine as the country with more than 11 million people turns from a jump in coronavirus cases and deaths from COVID-19 that saturate hospitals
Speaking during an online meeting, Margherita Ghiselli of the Pan American Health Organization said vaccination in Haiti would begin “very soon”, although she did not say when exactly the doses would arrive.
Robert Barrais of the Haitian Ministry of Public Health said during the meeting that hospitalizations had almost doubled and that the country was still in a critical phase of a pandemic. Officials have reported more than 17,900 confirmed coronavirus infections and 400 deaths from COVID-19, although experts say they believe that number has been seriously underestimated given the lack of widespread tests.
“The fact that we don’t have vaccines yet explains the current situation in the country,” Barrais said.
Haiti was supposed to receive about 756,000 doses of AstraZenec vaccine last month as part of the UN COVAX program, but government officials were concerned about the potential side effects of the vaccine and possible coercion to drop doses given the lack of infrastructure to maintain them properly. in the refrigerator.
Officials later announced that about 130,000 doses were supposed to arrive in mid-June, but the shipment was postponed for unknown reasons.
During a meeting Thursday, Ronald Jean-Jacques, a professor at Haitian State University, shared a survey in which he interviewed more than 5,300 Haitians. More than 60% said they would not take the vaccine, while an additional 10% said they had never heard of the coronavirus vaccine, noting warnings from international agencies that stronger and more widespread educational campaigns were needed.
“We will always have people who don’t want the vaccine,” said David Fitter, an official with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Not everyone is worried.
Marco Jean-Pierre, an industrial mechanic, said he would take the vaccine if it would help him live longer. He added that he believes there are rumors that the vaccines have allegedly arrived and that only government officials and the Haitian elite have received doses.
Jean-Pierre said that he complains that he lives in a country where nothing is guaranteed.
“If I had the opportunity to live somewhere else, I would do it,” he said. “Take my child and goodbye, Haiti.”
Associate Press author Evens Sanon of Port-au-Prince, Haiti contributed to the report.