The British Virgin Islands government will now be aiming to vaccinate the entire population with the assistance of the United Kingdom government, who will continue to procure COVID-19 vaccines for the territory.
This is according to the Health Minister Carvin Malone who made the disclosure while collecting the first batch of 8,000 vaccines from the UK on Thursday.
Malone was responding to a question posed on what is the overall goal of the BVI government in the number of persons they intend to vaccinate.
“We’re looking in terms of the entire population. We’re saying that if we have to go to 40,000, we will have that done,” the minister said.
“The United Kingdom has undertaken to look first at 80 percent of the population but now they’re looking for the entire population because we already have facilities that we set up with COVAX and we’re trying to make sure that this is all done,” Malone added.
At least 10,000 to be vaccinated from first two shipments
Premier Andrew Fahie also said the first two shipments of COVID-19 vaccines – which includes the 8000 AstraZeneca vaccines from the UK and the 12,000 COVAX vaccines procured by the BVI government – will facilitate the vaccination of at least 10,000 residents.
“We are looking at vaccinating from the 8,000 units, 4000 persons first … From the first time you take it, you have four to eleven weeks before you can take to make sure the second dose is there. So 4,000 persons will be vaccinated first. Then when the other supply comes in — if it is the 12,000 from COVAX first — well then 6,000 persons will be vaccinated then which will allow them to get the two doses,” Fahie explained.
He added: “The UK have their other [vaccine shipments] coming in. Hopefully they will come in first — another 8,000 because it will be 8,000 trenches — [so by] then we’ll do 4,000 persons more and we will continue along that line.”
No annual vaccination needed at this time
Meanwhile, Acting Chief Medical Officer Dr Ronald Georges was asked whether the COVID-19 vaccine will have to be taken on an annual basis.
Dr Georges responded: “Initially, it’s a two-dose regimen, so you will have to get two doses. The evidence shows that with the first dose, there is already an impact in terms of the rate of infectiousness — the rates of hospitalisation. And once you have the second dosage, those things go down and the vaccines meet its full potential.”
“The thing is the COVID vaccine has been changing, we all heard about new variants out of South Africa, UK and Brazil and those are important variants that have caused problems and there are many other variables. So at present, we don’t think so, but its quite possible as the evidence develops. We may have to move to something like that but at this point it is a one-off and as things change, we will be able to bring more information to you,” Dr Georges further explained.
The government will be using a phased approach to vaccinate all persons willing to take the vaccine. The vaccination process is not mandatory.
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