STATEMENT BY HONOURABLE MARLON PENN
MINISTER FOR HEALTH AND SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT
ARRIVAL OF PEDIATRIC DOSES OF PFIZER VACCINE
May 12, 2022
Greetings to the residents and visitors of these beautiful Virgin Islands. I am Marlon Penn, Minister of Health and Social Development and I am pleased to lend my voice to this critical topic of vaccination and COVID-19 in this new capacity.
Yesterday, additional doses of the pediatric formulation of the Pfizer vaccine arrive in the Virgin Islands. These doses are to ensure that children who have already received their initial doses of Pfizer vaccine can complete their vaccination course and be deemed fully vaccinated.
The Government and people of the Virgin Islands continues to be grateful for the continued support and assistance of the Government of the United Kingdom in the Virgin Islands’ response to the COVID-19 Pandemic. The UK Government has and continues to give invaluable support in the areas of vaccines but also technical support in a number of areas related to public health and the provision of supplies and equipment to support the Territory’s response to the COVID pandemic. This has included antiviral medications, ventilators, medical supplies all of which have improved our readiness and supported our response in keeping the Virgin Islands safe during this difficult time.
As the pandemic has changed over the last two years, we have seen the emergence of new strains of COVID-19. Thankfully, the current Omicron variant and its associated subvariants despite being more contagious continue to be associated which much milder disease than previous variants. This together with increased levels of immunity in populations through vaccination and natural immunity and the sensible application have public measures have led to a relaxation of public health measures across the globe and a concomitant re-opening of societies and economies. On this backdrop, responsibility has shifted from governments to individuals to ensure their own personal safety and make sensible decisions for themselves, their families, and their connections.
Vaccination remains a wise personal choice for persons who chose it as one of their strategies for protection. Despite that the current vaccines are not as effective against these more recent variants and subvariants that are circulating it remains an important strategy especially for the more vulnerable persons who are more likely to have severe disease. This includes the elderly, and those with immune compromise.
The Government of the Virgin Islands with the invaluable assistance of the Government of the United Kingdom remains committed to ensuring that persons who wish to have access to vaccines continue to have access. The arrival and receipt of these Pediatric doses of Pfizer vaccination are a testament to that commitment. For this, we and the parents of the children who will receive these doses are grateful.
As of the 10th of March, a total of 19,299 persons or 64% of the population have received COVID-19 vaccinations with 17,886 or 59.6% having received two doses and 59.6% having received 3 doses.
As the BVI currently experiences an uptick in COVID-19 cases, we report 155 active cases today with a total of 387 new cases being reported over the last month since the 10th of April. It is important that persons continue to take personal responsibility to protect themselves and limit the spread of the disease in the community. As a reminder, the reduction of public health measures signals a shift from Government towards individuals making their own decisions in relation to protecting themselves from COVID-19.
Therefore, if you think you have symptoms of COVID-19 do isolate yourselves from others and get tested as soon as possible. If you are positive, you should isolate from others for a period of 10 days. You can do a test on Day 7 and if negative, you can end isolation precautions. However, all persons testing positive should ensure that they wear a well-fitted mask and avoid contact with vulnerable persons for a full period of 14 days.
Persons who have been exposed to a confirmed positive case meaning that they had close maskless contact with that positive case for 15 minutes or more should self-isolate and wear a well-fitted mask when around others. They should seek to be tested within 5 to 7 days and continue to observe themselves for symptoms for a full 14 days. Contact with vulnerable persons should be avoided to minimise their risk.
I recognise that we have all been impacted in one way or another by this disease. However, we must not get weary in ensuring we take care of our most vulnerable in our population, the elderly and those with underlying conditions as well as ourselves. Let us all continue to remain vigilant, as we must co-exist with this disease.
Thank you and God bless.