Almost 3 million vaccines against COVID-19 have already reached 24 countries in the region
Twenty four countries in Latin America and the Caribbean have received in recent days the first batches of vaccines against COVID-19 through the COVAX mechanism.
PANAMA CITY, 7 April 2021 - Twenty four countries in Latin America and the Caribbean have received in recent days the first batches of vaccines against COVID-19 through the COVAX mechanism lead by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), the Global Vaccine Alliance (Gavi), the World Health Organization (WHO), the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO) and UNICEF. Over the past few weeks, in chronological order, Colombia, Peru, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Jamaica, Nicaragua, Ecuador, Paraguay, Brazil, Bolivia, Suriname, Argentina, Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, Belize, Uruguay, Barbados, Dominica, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, St. Lucia, St. Kitts and Nevis, Dominican Republic and Costa Rica have received a total of 2,860,880 vaccines. In the coming days and weeks new COVID-19 vaccine batches will reach countries in the region through COVAX.
“Each vaccine that reaches Latin America and the Caribbean is one more step in the fight against this virus,” said Jean Gough, UNICEF’s Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean.
“Every health worker who gets vaccinated today will be better protected to attend to children's and their families' health needs tomorrow. In the past year, children across the region have endured the devastating impact of the pandemic in its many forms. The arrival of vaccines through the COVAX Facility gives them hope and will bring the return to a normal life closer. The COVAX mechanism shows that it's fair, possible and important to make vaccines accessible where they are needed. UNICEF is proud to join forces with PAHO and other partners in this historic endeavor to ensure the equitable distribution of vaccines across Latin America and the Caribbean, starting with health care workers and other priority groups.”
Colombia was the first country in Latin America to receive vaccines through the COVAX mechanism. On March 1, the first 117,000 doses arrived in Bogotá.
President Iván Duque stressed that Colombia has bet on multilateralism, considering that with this first shipment in the region "it is confirmed that COVAX is active and works", and called for “all of us to accelerate the distribution of vaccines through COVAX in the Americas."
On Saturday March 20, Colombia received their second shipment of 244,800 vaccines through COVAX.
On 11 March, a batch with 117,000 doses arrived in Peru.
Ana de Mendoza, UNICEF Representative in Peru, said that “the arrival of vaccines plants seeds of hope that we can bring this crisis to an end. The longer the pandemic lasts, the greater the impact on the most vulnerable. Through COVAX, Peru is taking a step to make sure no one is left behind and to build a better future for children and their families."
In Peru, UNICEF has also helped the government procure 1,100 solar freezers to safely store and transport vaccines. The newly arrived freezers connect directly to solar panels without requiring the use of batteries or regulators, making them ideal for remote communities with limited power supply. The cold chain units will preserve COVID-19 vaccines and other routine vaccines.
On 10 March, 81,600 doses arrived in Guatemala.
Carlos Carrera, UNICEF Representative in Guatemala, said: “We celebrate the arrival of 81,600 doses of vaccines in Guatemala through the COVAX mechanism, which will provide 6.6 million vaccines to Guatemala for 3.3 million people. A historic step to ensure the equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines.”
On the same day, 33,600 vaccines also arrived in El Salvador.
“We congratulate the intersectoral efforts of the Government of El Salvador, in coordination with PAHO/WHO. UNICEF will continue to support the work of the Ministry of Health and the authorities to promote safe immunization and measures to prevent COVID-19,” said Yvette Blanco, UNICEF Representative in the country.
On Monday, March 22, El Salvador received its second delivery of 51,480 vaccines against COVID-19 through COVAX.
On Saturday, 13 March, 48,000 doses of vaccines arrived in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, through COVAX.
“We are very happy that the vaccines have arrived in Honduras. The most important thing now is that there is hope and there is trust in the multilateral system, and that is going to give us plenty of opportunity to ensure that protection against COVID is stronger than ever,” said Mark Connolly, UNICEF Representative in Honduras.
On 15 March, 14,400 doses of vaccines arrived in Jamaica, a great milestone since they are the first to arrive in the Caribbean through COVAX.
“Every dose arriving in Jamaica brings the promise of protection for more families from COVID-19 infection and reducing the harmful secondary impacts on children. Children can then return to school, access critical services and reduce their vulnerability to violence at home and in the community. Also, to roll out vaccination efficiently and equitably, UNICEF Jamaica, together with digital health colleagues at the regional and global level, is supporting the Ministry of Health & Wellness and the Private Sector Organization of Jamaica (PSOJ), in providing an innovative digital health solution to help health workers collect and manage vaccination data and monitor the progress in real time,” explained Mariko Kagoshima, UNICEF Representative in Jamaica.
On 16 March, 135,000 vaccines arrived in Nicaragua.
“Led by CEPI, GAVI, WHO, and UNICEF, the COVAX mechanism has been established to ensure that all countries have access to vaccines, regardless of their economic capacity. We continue to work together with the Government to support its vaccination plan and ensure that the most vulnerable people have access to immunization and be able to stop the pandemic,” said Antero de Pina, UNICEF representative in Nicaragua.
The country is updating its cold chain equipment with the purchase of 28 refrigerators, 21 remote temperature monitoring devices and 96 cold boxes, purchased through UNICEF, which are ideal for remote communities.
On Wednesday, 17 March, 84,000 doses arrived in Quito, Ecuador.
“We are very happy. We now have to ensure that the vaccines are distributed equitably and transparently and for free among those who need it the most. We are talking about elderly people, health workers, teachers, migrants and refugees. This is a great milestone,” asserted Joaquin Gonzalez-Aleman, UNICEF Representative in Ecuador.
On 19 March, Paraguay received 36,000 doses of vaccines.
"UNICEF will continue to support vaccination efforts and the promotion of preventive measures in the country to control the pandemic and thus facilitate the eventual return to normalcy, including the protection of children and the safe return to school," said Dr. Rafael Obregón, Representative of UNICEF in the country.
On Sunday 21 March, Brazil received its first shipment of 1,022,400 doses of vaccines through COVAX.
“The arrival of this first batch of vaccines, and the others that will be delivered throughout the year, is a hope for everyone, including children and adolescents. Although they are not the most directly affected by Covid-19, and cannot yet be vaccinated, they suffer strongly from the consequences of the crisis caused by the pandemic, with profound impacts on education, mental health, protection against violence and food security. Expanding adult vaccination is an important step in controlling the pandemic and starting to reimagine a better, safer and healthier future for everyone, especially children, adolescents and their families,” affirmed Florence Bauer, UNICEF Representative in Brazil.
Also on 21 March, Bolivia received its first batch of 228,000 vaccines from COVAX.
“The arrival of the vaccines from the COVAX initiative, along with others acquired by the Bolivian government, will contribute to fulfilling the rights of children and adolescents. Although they are not the main affected by the disease, they have been harmed by the interruption of face-to-face classes in their schools; their access to health services has been limited: their parents, grandparents and caregivers can fall ill and even lose their lives. Without a doubt, Bolivian children and adolescents are the main beneficiaries,” mentioned Rafael Ramirez, UNICEF Representative in Bolivia.
On 26 March, 24,000 vaccines from COVAX arrived in Suriname.
“When we talk about COVAX vaccines arriving in Suriname and getting vaccinated, we need to recognize what this also represents for our own children – it is hope! Hope that we bring this pandemic under control; hope that we can start the work to build a better, safer, and healthier future for everyone and every child," expressed Nicolás Pron, UNICEF Representative in Suriname.
COVAX, the vaccines pillar of the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator, is co-led by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), the Global Vaccine Alliance (Gavi) and the World Health Organization (WHO) – working in partnership with UNICEF as key implementing partner, as well as civil society organizations, vaccine manufacturers, the World Bank, and others. In the Americas, the PAHO Revolving Fund is the recognized procurement agent for the COVAX facility.