Haiti earns yet another grim distinction: not a single person vaccinated



“Our battered suitcases were piled on the sidewalk again; we had longer ways to go. But no matter, the road is life”
– Jack Kerouac

I only recently learned that Haiti is the only country in the western hemisphere to have not vaccinated a single person.

A June 8 Bloomberg piece (paywall) grimly noted that along with the usual description used for Haiti — the poorest nation in the western hemisphere — it has earned another distinction — the only one that hasn’t vaccinated a single resident against Covid-19.

Although Haiti was offered AstraZeneca doses under Covax scheme for poorer countries, it declined that vaccine citing side effects and widespread fears among its people. By May 2021, a surge in coronavirus cases helped dull the resistance to AstraZeneca but the Haitian request for doses could not be fulfilled because the Serum Institute of India had production problems and the global need was so great vaccine-makers couldn’t keep up.

The Bloomberg piece cites the United Nations’ Vaccine Market Dashboard, which processes information provided by Covax. It has, it says, “no scheduled delivery date for Haiti”.

I thought back to the years we lived in Haiti. The country was beautiful, the people friendly but prone to ill logic, not least the belief that a virus (a quite different one, cholera) could not possibly cause disease and death. The common Haitian Kreyol saying was “Mikwòb pa touye Ayisyen”, which translates to the belief that a mere microbe cannot kill Haitians.

The Haitian government’s halting approach to vaccinating people underlines much that is wrong with some of its peoples’ refusal to believe they have agency — as well as responsibility — for their lot in life.