The AstraZeneca vaccine is expected to be available in the Virgin Islands from next month, February as the United Kingdom (UK) Government plans for the deployment of the vaccine throughout the Overseas Territories (OTs).
Health Minister, Hon. Carvin Malone, who made the announcement recently in the House of Assembly, said the Government of the Virgin Islands will be collaborating with several agencies in supporting a national programme to make the AstraZeneca vaccine available to residents on a voluntary basis.
Hon. Malone said his ministry will work closely with Public Health England, the Caribbean Public Health Agency, CARPHA, the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO), and the World Health Organization (WHO) on a national programme to make the vaccine available to residents on a purely voluntary basis.
“Published safety data indicates that this vaccine is well tolerated and has no serious safety events confirmed related to the vaccine. Safety data will continue to be collected and monitored as the vaccine is rolled out world-wide including in the BVI,” he said.
The Minister added, “Work on a national programme to make the vaccine available to residents on a purely voluntary basis will start early in the new year in preparation for when the vaccine is delivered in the Territory.”
The national programme will be led by the Ministry of Health and involve collaboration and communication with a wide cross-section of stakeholders across government, private, and non-government sectors.
He explained that effective communication and innovative strategies are crucial to addressing the public’s concerns regarding the vaccine. He said that the Ministry of Health’s objective is to reach out to the community with information and offer vaccine to all targeted populations.
“Vaccination of the world’s population is an important strategy to end the continued menace of COVID-19 to the world. The Territory must not only do its part in this effort, but also for our own sakes to reduce the impact of this pandemic on the Territory, its inhabitants, and our economy,” he related.