Caribbean News

Haiti reluctant on Covid-19 Vaccine, Residents say they don’t wear masks because they cannot afford them

#Haiti, April 14, 2021 – Haiti, the home for over 11 million people, is in the latest Coronavirus pandemic controversy for their reluctance in applying for Covid-19 vaccines despite the rising cases of Covid-19. For more than a year of the Covid-19 pandemic in the nation, the national response towards combating the disease remains very poor, as the residents cry foul over the scarcity and high prices of masks.

“The state government is supposed to give us masks, give us masks to wear for the coronavirus. But they don’t give us the masks, and we don’t know where to go and buy them. They sell them at a higher price for us to be able to afford them. We are poor; we can’t afford them. Therefore, we don’t wear masks. The coronavirus hasn’t hit us. I’m not saying it’s not here; it hasn’t hit us”, said a vendor, who was one of the respondents interviewed.

Even though Haiti is among the Caribbean countries that did not meet the deadlines for the requirements needed to get vaccines, the virus seems not to have taken a toll. Most of Haiti’s residents know no meaning of masks, and a few who believe in self-protection can hardly afford one.

Given that Haiti hasn’t imposed strict Covid-19 measures or a serious lockdown, the residents go on with events and activities almost like it was in the Pre-coronavirus days. Despite the government citing a lack of proper vaccine storage facilities, the Haitian culture has historic issues with vaccines, as some are suspicious the coronavirus vaccine could make them sterile.

While Haiti could have receive its first batch of vaccines for a pilot program, they country showed no interest in the UN-backed COVAX vaccine. Being among the 92 low-income countries listed by the UN as qualified for free doses, Haiti is set to receive the first batch of 756,000 doses of Astrazeneca vaccines in May.

On the other hand, Haiti’s story is also one of remarkable success.   A low infection rate despite hardly any break from cultural norms.  The country still held its annual Karnaval in February, which attracts thousands of people; no obvious spikes in the contagion were reflected.

According to data, Haiti, with about 11 million people, recorded about 12,700 cases with only 250 deaths, while the neighborhood  Bahamas, with nearly 400,000 people, recorded around 9,400 cases with around  200 deaths.

Comparing the two countries, Haiti seems to be doing incredibly well, even though the data is suspected to be underreported; but this is said of just about every country. 

With 104 new cases of the coronavirus recorded in the past 15 days, many not believing in the existence of the Covid-19, very few public health restrictions, and hardly anyone wearing masks due to high poverty levels, the country appears to be in no grave danger of Covid-19 and this takes the foot off the accelerator of securing vaccines for Haitians.

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