Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Hazel Laws, Renews Call For The Elderly To Be Vaccinated
Basseterre, St. Kitts, February 17, 2022 (SKNIS): Elderly persons remain at high risk for contracting the deadly COVID-19 virus and may experience severe symptoms that can ultimately lead to death.
Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Hazel Laws, speaking during the February 16, 2022 NEOC press briefing, indicated that elderly persons accounted for the majority of the COVID-19 related deaths during the fourth wave of infections within the Federation.
“Once you are over sixty (60) years old and you are unvaccinated you are vulnerable. You are at risk of picking up COVID-19 and you are at risk of moderate to severe disease, you are at risk of being hospitalized as a result of COVID-19 especially if you have any of these underlying medical conditions: diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, kidney or renal disease, stroke in the past and if you have been diagnosed with cancer. So, if you have any of these underlying conditions and you are not yet vaccinated, we really want you to reconsider your position because it is individuals like yourself who are at risk of moderate to severe infection or even dying. We want to prevent any further deaths in this regard,” said Dr. Laws.
Globally, vaccine hesitancy has mainly been fueled by misinformation. In St. Kitts and Nevis, the Ministry of Health embarked on an awareness and sensitization campaign early on to bolster trust in vaccination. Dr. Laws stressed the importance of being vaccinated against COVID-19 while at the same time urging more persons to get vaccinated.
“If you are hesitant about the vaccine, what are the factors contributing to your hesitancy? Is it that you have concerns about the safety of the vaccine or is it that you are not convinced about the benefit of the vaccine to you? At the end of the day we want to be able to convince and have you coming onboard in terms of having the vaccine. In terms of vaccine safety, in terms of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine over 10 billion doses have already been administered globally [with] very little adverse or significant side effects. In the Caribbean alone, over twenty-four million vaccine doses have been administered. In terms of St. Kitts and Nevis alone, we have had over fifty-seven thousand doses of the vaccines combined administered. So, in terms of safety, it is relatively safe,” she added.
The Ministry of Health has carried out a successful vaccination campaign, receiving high praise from the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) for its vaccination roll-out. As of February 16, 2022, 82.4 percent of the target adult population of the Federation had received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, with 77 percent of the target population being fully vaccinated against COVID-19.