Basseterre, St. Kitts (SKNIS): Wednesday’s arrival of 21,600 doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine in St. Kitts and Nevis was described as a historic milestone in the ongoing fight against the global pandemic.
Prime Minister Dr. The Honourable Timothy Harris, Minister of Health, the Honourable Akilah Byron-Nisbett, and a host of other government officials were present at the R. L. Bradshaw International Airport to witness the arrival of the vaccines provided through the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access (COVAX) Facility.
Katrina Smith, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) Country Representative, congratulated the government for its successful management of the COVID-19. To date, the Federation has recorded 44 cases of COVID-19. All patients have recovered with no community or cluster spread and zero deaths.
Ms. Smith said that vaccines are integral to protect vulnerable persons in society.
“While there is reason to hope, we must also remember that doses are limited and it will be several months before we can rely on vaccines to control this virus,” she stated. “Our goal must be to save as many persons as possible by prioritizing early doses for those who are at the highest risk of infection.”
The PAHO representative added that the vaccines are designed to protect against hospitalizations and death thereby reducing the strain on health systems.
“Vaccines will save lives and eventually halt the pandemic,” Ms. Smith said. “But with around 131.8 million cases confirmed cases and over 2.8 million deaths as of (April 06), countries in the Eastern Caribbean and our region, in general, must maintain the public health measures to limit exposure to the virus, social distancing, limiting gatherings, the consistent use of masks in public settings and frequent handwashing are some measures for reducing the numbers of COVID-19 infections at this time.”
The 21,600 vaccines through the COVAX Facility can facilitate two jabs for 10,800 persons. Previously, the Government received 20,000 vaccines from India and gifted 2,000 to Grenada. Additionally, Dominica donated 2,000 vaccines from India to St. Kitts and Nevis.
In sum total, the Government of St. Kitts and Nevis to date has had 41, 600 vaccines, enough to vaccinate 20, 800 persons with both jabs. As of Wednesday, April 7, 2021, 9, 966 persons were vaccinated with their first dose. In order to achieve herd immunity 70 percent of the adult population should be vaccinated, which amounts to 33, 037 persons.
This means that the Government has to procure an additional 24, 474 vaccines to cover 12, 237 more persons.