(CMR) The Cayman Islands received its last scheduled shipment of COVID-19 vaccines from the UK today, Wednesday, 7 April. The shipment arrived aboard the British Airways flight.
The supplies mean that the Cayman Islands have been provided with enough vaccines to fully cover over 45,000 people or nearly 90% of those eligible over 16 years of age. Just over 31,000 people have had their first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine so far. This represents 48% of the 65,000 population and 60% of those eligible.
The vaccines received by the Cayman Islands have variable shelf lives of between one and three months and need to be used before they reach their expiration date. Those who have not yet had the vaccine are encouraged to do so.
Governor Martyn Roper said it was good news that over 31,000 people have had at least one dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, and over 20,000 of those have had both doses. However, he expressed concern about the slow uptake of the vaccine.
“I am concerned that vaccine uptake is slowing. As the vaccine has a limited shelf life, we have asked the UK to send a significantly reduced amount of a further 11,700 doses in the last scheduled delivery that arrives today from the UK,” Roper said.
Governor Roper said before the arrival of the shipment on Wednesday, Cayman already had enough vaccine on Island for 80% of its adult population or approximately 40,000 people.
“But as vaccine supply is still challenging, and many countries are desperately seeking supplies, it would be wrong to risk wasting vaccine supply. If uptake increases, we can request a further delivery from the UK,” Roper explained.
He noted that millions of people had taken the vaccine safely with little or no side effects.
“No one wants to get Covid. In the UK, even young people who have had it mildly are at risk of long Covid (suffering symptoms lasting months). New research published today suggests that getting Covid is associated with a greater risk of depression, dementia, psychosis, and stroke,” he added.
“The vaccine is the best way to protect yourself, your family, and especially our more vulnerable elderly population. We can only safely reopen our borders once the vast majority of the adult population is vaccinated and protected from the worst effects of this terrible virus. I, therefore, encourage everyone who has yet to be vaccinated to come forward now”.
As the Cayman Islands reaches the final stages of its vaccination drive, the Chief Medical Officer (CMO), Dr. John Lee, expressed his appreciation to everyone for their support so far. The CMO said that the vaccine will encourage safe travel and easier movement of people.
Dr. Lee stated, “We have been assisted tirelessly by the staff of the Health Services Authority and their Public Health team who have come out as stars in the management of the threat from COVID-19: I thank them and Owen Roberts International Airport (ORIA) for allowing us such a great space to use for the program.”
Vaccination clinic operational changes:
Meantime, the Public Health department is advising that due to the program's progress, there will no longer be the need to use the Owen Roberts International Airport site as a vaccination center from the end of April.
Also, from today, 7 April, people attending for vaccination do not need to provide identification to demonstrate that they are ordinarily and legally resident. Photo ID will still be required.
The latest schedule of operations at the airport will be published by the Health Services Authority imminently and will include extended hours to further facilitate access to vaccinations. It will be available at www.hsa.ky.