Ag. Public Health Communications Specialist
Ministry of Health and Social Development
Telephone: 468-3701 ext. 852 7742
The British Virgin Islands marked another historic day as it received the first shipment of 8,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to combat effects of the COVID-19 virus.
The shipment arrived on February 4 on a special charter flight from the United Kingdom to the Terrance B. Lettsome International Airport. It was welcomed by Government officials including Premier and Minister of Finance, Honourable Andrew A. Fahie; His Excellency the Governor John Rankin,CME; Minister for Health and Social Development Honourable Carvin Malone; Acting Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Ronald Georges and Minister for Transportation Works and Utilities, Honourable Kye Rymer.
Health Minister Honourable Malone commended the public-private partnerships that continue to support the national COVID-19 response. He thanked Rotary Clubs for purchasing the freezers used to store the vaccines and Riteway Supermarket for providing a storage location and transportation from the airport to the storage site.
Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Ronald Georges stated that the vaccine is a potential game changer for the BVI and COVID-19.
“If we get as many persons in our population vaccinated as possible, it is going to change the way we handle our restrictions and all the things we have to do related to COVID-19,” Dr. Georges said. He added, “This is going to make sure that we have a large number of our population potentially immune to the disease. We all know the impact that COVID-19 has had on our society and our economy and all spheres of life in the BVI; by having our population covered and immune, we can now look at returning to some degree of normalcy.”
The AstraZeneca vaccine was co-invented by the University of Oxford and its associated company, Vaccitech. The vaccine is recommended to be given in two separate doses with an interval of four to 12 weeks between doses. The regimen has been shown to be 70.4 percent effective in preventing symptoms or hospitalisation with a 90 percent efficacy after receiving the two dose regimen.
Premier Fahie in his remarks thanked the United Kingdom for the ongoing partnership in helping people and saving lives.
The Premier commended the Minister for Health, the public health teams and working committees that have been leading the way, as well as Governor Rankin for his quick and active role in doing the necessary work contributing to the COVID-19 response.
Meanwhile, Governor Rankin also commended the on-going response in the Territory and stated that one of his number one priorities was to help to make sure that the shipment arrived safely.
The Governor said, “The Virgin Islands has done very well so far to keep the number of [COVID-19] cases to a minimum because of the protocols that have been put in place and because the people in the community have bought into those protocols. The vaccine is indeed a game changer in helping us to return to normality.”
The vaccines will be administered in a phased approach as follows: Phase 1- Healthcare and frontline workers; Phase 2 - People with underlying conditions that put them at risk of severe COVID-19 disease or death, and persons over 60 years; Phase 3 - Essential workers at high risk of exposure (eg. teachers, school staff, workers and persons in care homes, shelters, prisoners and prison staff, and hospitality workers); Phase 4 - Young adults; and Phase 5 - All remaining residents.
More information on the Vaccine roll out will be available in the coming days and persons should visit www.bvi.gov.vg.
The public is reminded to comply with all health and safety measures that include hand washing, wearing of face masks in public spaces, maintaining six feet from others outside of your households, disinfecting frequently touched surfaces, keeping hands out of your face and limiting large gatherings.