This story has been updated
The BVI government is expected to assess what will be done if there are unused vaccines remaining on hand at the end of this month.
Previously, Premier Andrew Fahie said the government would rather return its COVID-19 vaccines to their original senders than have them expire in the BVI.
The Premier made the revelation in an April 8 national address. He said while some residents remain on the fence about taking the COVID-19 shots, some batches of the AstraZeneca vaccine in the territory are nearing their expiration date.
However, in a statement issued late last week, Health Minister Carvin Malone said: “Without apology, this Government intends to intensify the education process aimed at encouraging the remaining 6,538 persons to voluntarily be vaccinated at any of the centres by the 31st of May 2021.”
“Following this date, an assessment would be made in relation to the remaining doses, of which I hope there would be none,” Malone continued.
In his statement delivered last Thursday, May 6, the minister added: “For the next 25 days, all hands and voices would be required to assist in our ambitious goal.”
Meanwhile, Malone disclosed that the 34,000 doses of vaccines donated to the British Virgin Islands by the United Kingdom and Dominica will allow for a total of 17,000 persons to receive two doses of vaccines each.
Of this amount, 10,462 persons had received their first doses while 2,034 persons had received their second doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine administered in the territory at the end of last week.
Although the BVI has made down payments on COVID vaccines through the global COVAX facility, Premier Fahie said the government will reconsider taking these vaccines if residents continue to show scant regard for the vaccine.
“Our proactive steps in securing vaccines from COVAX in 2020 would have to be heavily weighed, in that: do we want it or not? If it is that we do it, will it work out well? But if it is that we do not want them, it would result in wasted resources,” Premier Fahie explained.
After an unforced error from the minister last week, Malone reiterated that government will not be making vaccinations mandatory. “To be clear,” he said, “the Virgin Islands Government will NOT be requiring mandatory vaccinations for its residents.”
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