Premier Andrew Fahie has 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.
“Each supply that is currently on hand each has expiration dates, which is fast approaching.
We will continue to educate, and inform the public of the benefits and advantages of being vaccinated. Our lives, our health and our economy depend on what we all do,” Premier Fahie explained.
“What we will not do is allow our supply of vaccines to expire awaiting the decisions of some of the public. In this regard, a decision will have to be made whether or not the volume of vaccines that is at risk of being expired would have to be returned to the United Kingdom and/or Dominica.”
Recently, the government announced that the first batch of vaccines the BVI received in early February will expire before the end of the second quarter of 2021.
Do we want it or not?
To date, fewer than 10,000 persons have taken AstraZeneca jabs in the BVI.
And 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.
Already, Grenada is one Caribbean country that has made COVID vaccination mandatory for some persons working in the hospitality industry.
Mandatory vaccination not a route gov’t taking
However, Premier Fahie said mandatory vaccination isn’t a route his government is willing to take.
“I am aware that member states within the region are seeking to amend their public health laws to make it mandatory for some sector of employees to be vaccinated. It is not our intention to make it mandatory. I repeat, it is not our intention to make it mandatory, but it is our intention not to have the vaccines expire while in our possession if others can do with it,” the Premier said.
He added: “It is time for us to fully reopen our borders, reopen our ports, return to full-time schools. All these can be accomplished sooner, based on our decisions to vaccinate or not!”
“The most credible option to rebound our economy at this time is vaccines. This will ensure the safety of our people and the economy of the Virgin Islands as much as humanly possible,” Fahie further said.
The territory currently has the capacity to vaccinate at least 9,000 more people.
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