ST JOHN’S, Antigua (CMC) — The Antigua and Barbuda government says it will seek to acquire 50,000 SputnikV vaccines from Russia as it moves towards herd immunity in an effort to stop the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19).
A statement issued after the weekly Cabinet meeting said that the Gaston Browne administration had agreed to order the vaccine, which it described as “a two-dose vaccine that is in great demand and being gobbled up by many European countries”.
“Residents and citizens may then have a choice between the Oxford AstraZeneca and the SputnikV, in due course. Everyone age 18 and older is encouraged to be vaccinated. The mobile vaccination unit will be out again on Saturday… to facilitate those who may otherwise not be able to visit the four centers that are fully operational from 9:00 am to 3:30 pm (local time) each weekday,” the statement said.
Since the start of the pandemic, the island has recorded 1,217 cases with 995 recoveries and 41 deaths.
The statement said that the Ministry of Health and Wellness, in collaboration with the state-owned television station, ABS-TV, will be holding a “Vaccine Zoom Party” on Saturday.
“The event is aiming to reach youthful Antiguan and Barbudan citizens and residents primarily, who are among a group that think of themselves as invincible. Doctors and entertainers will collaborate to get the message out to this group to seek vaccination.
“It is agreed that herd immunity can be achieved when 70 per cent of the adult population, numbering 70,000 to 80,000 souls) or 60,000 to 70,000 residents have been vaccinated. The published figures are important to source markets as the travel agents and tour operators decide on a safety basis where to dispatch their clients. Already, Antigua and Barbuda is among the 18 top states worldwide to achieve significant vaccination levels of their population per thousand,” the statement noted.
Meanwhile, the government has agreed to allow churches to revert to the position that governed them last June.
“The number of congregants allowed in church will be determined by the size of the edifice. The congregants are to sit six feet apart, except for households that are allowed to sit together but six feet away from the next household or congregant. The Cabinet noted that the church community is the most compliant with the protocols,” the statement said, noting that Cabinet had met with a delegation headed by the Chairman of the Ecclesiastical Commission, William Dorsett.
“After hearing from each of the pastors, the Cabinet agreed that, with infection rates falling, the restriction which limited attendance to 25 persons is withdrawn. Churches may revert to the position which governed last June 2020. The number of congregants allowed in church will be determined by the size of the edifice. The congregants are to sit six feet apart, except for households that are allowed to sit together but six feet away from the next household or congregant. The Cabinet noted that the church community is the most compliant with the protocols,” the statement said.
The churches have also agreed to encourage their congregants to take the vaccine. The church leaders indicated that they were already exhorting their congregations to vaccinate.
“For those who claimed that their decision not to vaccinate is personal, the pastors noted that there can be no such personal decision when infection of others is a probability; both are incompatible,” the statement noted.