by Kevon Browne
St. Kitts and Nevis (WINN) – Although St. Kitts and Nevis boast one of the highest vaccination rates in the Caribbean, health officials are still fighting against vaccine hesitancy in the Federation.
“So there’s a big cry for our borders to be completely open… There are individuals who want the air traveller, and they want the sea traveller to disembark and integrate into our society. And so the policymakers and the decision-makers would have to ultimately make a decision as to the way forward and how open will our borders be,” said Chief Medical Office Dr Hazel Laws during the last press briefing hosted by the National Emergency Operations Center (NEOC).
“We are asking [people to help us] reach that threshold. We said 80 percent… If we reach that threshold of 80 percent vaccination, then I think the Cabinet should feel comfortable in knowing what risk they are willing to absorb here in St. Kitts and Nevis, in particular, looking at the low vaccination rate for our underaged teenagers… the age of 12 to 17… So if you help us, we are able to help everybody to get to where we need to get at,” echoed Abdias Samuel, Chair of the COVID-19 Taskforce.
Dr Laws also warned that the delta variant is coming, and the fourth wave of community spread is inevitable.
The return to normalcy and the return of some sectors to full swing, namely tourism, sports and entertainment has been the selling point for the vaccination.
Several meetings were held with various sectors on the way forward, according to Samuel. With the increase in tourist arrivals, the cry for contact sports to resume and the entertainment industry seeing a glimmer of hope in the approval of in-person Carnival events, officials are still holding fast that reaching the 80 percent benchmark with vaccination will determine the way forward.
“Subsequent to these meetings, we are going to have meetings With the St. Kitts and Nevis Basketball Association. We also plan to meet with the Cricket Association, Volleyball Associations and the other sporting fraternities here in St. Kitts and Nevis. And then we want to bring everybody collectively together so that we could actually formulate the plan, policies and procedures to be able to resume sports in a very safe and practical manner, said Samuel, “And again, I want to emphasise the point that there are times you will have international matches and if you’re aspiring to have international matches, access some of these scholarships in the United States of America, it is best that you consider the possibility of being vaccinated to be a team player. Because you know, you can affect your other teammates and also affect their families. So if you could do your best to get vaccinated, that’ll be a critical thing for you to do.”
However, the fight is ongoing to get stakeholders from the different sectors of society vaccinated to allow for the full resumption of the activities in the sport and entertainment sectors.