Haiti gets 500K vaccine doses; its first of the pandemic

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — Haiti on Wednesday received its first coronavirus vaccine since the pandemic began, welcoming 500,000 doses as the country battles a spike in cases and deaths.

The Pan American Health Organization said the United States donated the doses via the United Nations’ COVAX program for low-income countries.

Spokeswoman Nadia Peimbert-Rappaport told The Associated Press that the shipment was Moderna vaccine.

“The arrival of these vaccines is quite promising and now the challenge is to get them to the people that need them the most,” the regional health agency’s director, Dr. Carissa Etienne, said in a statement.

The doses will be administered for free, said Dr. Marie Gréta Roy Clément, Haiti’s minister of public health and population.

“This first allocation of vaccines puts an end to a long period of waiting, an end to a long period of waiting not only for the Haitian population but also for the people of the region who were very concerned that Haiti was the only country in the Americas that had not yet introduced the COVID 19 vaccine,” she said in a statement.

Haiti has reported more than 19,300 confirmed coronavirus cases and more than 480 deaths as it fights a wave of COVID-19 cases that has forced hospitals to turn away patients.