St. Kitts & Nevis Progressing Well With Vaccinations While Addressing Vaccine Hesitancy

Basseterre, St. Kitts, April 09, 2021 (SKNIS): Since the roll-out of its COVID-19 vaccination programme on February 22, less than two months ago, St. Kitts & Nevis has done better with its vaccination programme than many countries in the developed and developing world, continuing with its stellar management of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The country has only recorded a meagre 44 confirmed cases of the coronavirus with all cases recovered and no serious hospitalization of persons, although its JNF General Hospital in St. Kitts and Alexandra Hospital in Nevis, have been prepared with several ventilators, pharmaceuticals, and specialist healthcare workers even before there were one positive case. On top of that, the country’s astute management of the virus has not resulted in one death, a rarity globally.

While there are challenges in persuading citizens and residents in taking the jab, just like many countries around the world battling a ferocious misinformation and disinformation campaign, the country is doing well in vaccinating 10, 391 persons in just 47 days, reaching 31.45 percent of its target population of 33, 037 persons, who would make up the 70 percent required for herd immunity. The other 30 percent are under the age of 18 and not eligible to take the Oxford-AstraZeneca jab, which is the only vaccine being offered in the country through COVAX, a global initiative aimed at equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines led by UNICEF, Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, the World Health Organization, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, and others.

As of April 7, 2021, the Health Emergency Operations Center (HEOC) Situation Report stated that Antigua & Barbuda had only vaccinated with one dose 27.4 percent of its population; Barbados 22.2; Dominica 24.6; Grenada 9.2; Montserrat 30.8; Saint Lucia 12.1; and St. Vincent and the Grenadines 9.7 percent. Canada had only vaccinated 16 percent of its population with one dose, the USA 33 percent, and the United Kingdom 48 percent. However, it must be noted that their vaccination roll-out programmes began weeks ahead of St. Kitts & Nevis’.

The Ministry of Health has been hosting Vaccination Information Sessions to address citizens and residents genuine concerns with respect to taking the vaccination especially over concerns seen in the news, the fact that the vaccines are new, and that the world had not seen a pandemic in a century.

However, an important milestone was achieved when the Ministry of Health not only met its target of vaccinating 10, 000 persons by April 16 but even surpassed it by almost 400 persons.

St. Kitts and Nevis is on the road to economic recovery and as the country continues with its vaccination programme, which is crucial to that recovery, business leaders, church leaders, and public sector officials are encouraged to persuade those in their charge to take the jab.

Prime Minister Dr. the Hon. Timothy Harris, in speaking to a gathering of business executives and senior-level government officials at a forum at the Royal St. Kitts Hotel on April 9, 2021, to discuss the socio-economic recovery of the country, said that the road to that recovery relies heavily on the successful roll-out of the vaccination programme.

“The vaccines are now here but it is relying upon you and me to make the right decision if we are to get the [pandemic] behind us and that in itself poses a challenge. It poses a challenge for the overall trajectory of the country because the actions of one individual or a few individuals could determine whether or not we recover fast or we recover slowly. That is why we need to have all hands on deck, all involved and that is why the philosophy that we developed of an all-of-society response, which has kept us safe with the best record among independent countries in the hemisphere, that philosophy must continue even now,” he said.

“It’s a long journey but every step is an important one that gets us to the goal of herd immunity – the 70 percent target that we have set for ourselves and we need to commend each other and encourage each other for doing good. Taking the vaccination is not just about individual and individual rights. Taking the vaccination is an act of selflessness, in my view, it is an act of patriotism because the very act can determine how far we go, how soon we will get there, whether 2000-plus people in the tourism industry will be able to get to work again depends on whether or not the taxi drivers, those in our restaurants, those in our schools get themselves vaccinated,” Prime Minister Harris added.

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