Guatemala receives its first vaccines from the COVAX Facility

11 Mar 2021
Llegan vacunas a Guatemala
Llegan vacunas a Guatemala

The first shipment contains 81,600 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, which is approved for emergency use by the World Health Organization.

Guatemala, 11 March 2021 – Guatemala became the third country in the Region of the Americas (after Colombia and Peru) to receive the vaccine through the COVAX Facility.

These 81,600 doses of AstraZeneca vaccine are the first of a total of 6.6 million doses that Guatemala expects to receive this year through COVAX, to reach its goal of immunizing 20% of the population. The COVAX Facility, with 190 participating countries, seeks to ensure an equitable and timely distribution of effective and safe vaccines against COVID-19.

“We would like to thank everyone who has made it possible for us to have this vaccine. These are the first vaccines received and acquired with our own funds to strengthen the COVID-19 vaccination process. With these doses, we hope to complete the first phase of our vaccination plan for front-line personnel in the public, private, and Social Security systems,” said Dr. Amelia Flores, Minister of Public Health and Social Assistance.

“This first shipment will help the Government of Guatemala and the Ministry of Public Health and Social Assistance continue their efforts to vaccinate those who have cared for us for a year: health workers. We hope that the number of vaccines provided by the COVAX Facility will increase each month, allowing the Ministry of Health to start vaccinating high-risk adults in the coming weeks. Meanwhile, biosafety measures must continue to be a priority in facing the pandemic,” said Oscar Barreneche, the PAHO/WHO Representative in Guatemala.

This shipment marks a milestone towards the goal of ensuring the equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines worldwide, in what amounts the largest vaccine procurement and supply operation in history.

The AstraZeneca vaccine, like all vaccines distributed by the COVAX Facility, has been authorized by the World Health Organization (WHO) for emergency use. This authorization is based on a detailed review of vaccine safety and efficacy data.

One year since the first case of COVID-19 was confirmed in Guatemala, more than 180,000 cases have been reported. Vaccination represents a new chapter in the fight against this disease that has impacted the lives of millions of people.

Until population-wide vaccination is possible, basic public health measures remain the cornerstone of response to the pandemic. For health authorities, this means continuing to conduct screening, contact tracing, quarantine, supported isolation, and provision of quality care. For the public, it means continuing to practice physical distancing, hand hygiene, mask-wearing, and proper ventilation, while avoiding crowds and gatherings.

COVAX is the cornerstone of the COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator. It is co-led by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunizations (Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance), and WHO, in partnership with UNICEF as a key implementing partner, as well as civil society organizations, vaccine manufacturers, the World Bank, and others.

The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) Revolving Fund is the recognized procurement agent for the COVAX Facility for the countries of the Region of the Americas.