Panama to hand out AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccines to visitors in tourism push

Panama is the first Central American nation to offer vaccine doses to tourists.
Panama is the first Central American nation to offer vaccine doses to tourists.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

PANAMA CITY (REUTERS) - Panama approved a plan on Wednesday (Sept 15) to vaccinate visitors in a bid to boost a tourism industry badly hit by the coronavirus pandemic, becoming the first Central American nation to offer vaccine doses to tourists.

Tourists will receive AstraZeneca vaccines, with the recommended interval between the two doses set at eight to 12 weeks, the government said in a statement.

It was not clear when the initiative would take effect, though visitors who wish to be inoculated will be expected to stay at least two nights at hotels registered with the Panama Tourism Authority (ATP).

"Panama seeks to attract tourists from Central America, the Caribbean and South America," a government source, who sought anonymity because he was not authorised to talk on the issue, told Reuters.

Many of Panama's neighbours have struggled to vaccinate large numbers of their populations.

Panama's economy, which declined almost 18 per cent because of the pandemic slowdown, has begun to reopen after a fall in infections in recent weeks as its vaccination effort took off.