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Haiti among poorest countries still waiting for COVID-19 vaccines

The country is only set to receive 756,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Coronavirus Pandemic

FILE - In this Oct. 8, 2019 file photo, entrepreneur and youth leader Pascéus Juvensky St. Fleur, 26, holds up his copy of the Haitian constitution during an interview in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Haiti has unveiled multiple proposed changes to overhaul the country’s Constitution that officials plan to present to voters starting in Feb. 2021 for an upcoming referendum that looms amid growing unrest. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell, File)

More than one year after coronavirus was declared a global emergency, Haiti is still waiting for doses of a COVID-19 vaccine.

According to the Associated Press, the country does not have a single dose of a vaccine to offer, raising concerns among health experts. 

With a population of over 11 million people, the country is only set to receive 756,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine through COVAX, a UN program aimed at helping the neediest countries. 

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Those doses are scheduled to arrive in May, but delays are expected because the country missed a deadline and the Indian manufacturer is prioritizing the increase in domestic demand. 

Haiti also did not apply for a pilot program that would have allowed it to get its doses earlier, the AP reported. 

Lauré Adrien, the general director of Haiti’s Health Ministry, blamed the vaccine delay on concerns that the country lacks the infrastructure to ensure proper vaccine storage. 

While the agency prefers a vaccine with a single dose, AstraZeneca requires two. 

“It’s no secret that we don’t have excellent conservation facilities,” he said. “We wanted to be sure that we had all the parameters under control before we received vaccine stocks.”

According to the World Health Organization, Haiti has had 12,803 confirmed cases and 252 deaths. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has designated the country as a Level 4 with a “Very High Level of COVID-19.”

Haiti is among dozens of low-income countries expected to receive the AstraZeneca vaccine. 

Once they arrive, health officials will be challenged with the task of getting citizens to take them. 

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