MOH hopes to vaccinate over 50,000 within two months
The ministry of health is hoping to have over 50,000 Vincentians vaccinated against COVID-19 over the next month and a half.
Minister of health St Clair “Jimmy” Prince said on Monday that vaccination is an important tool in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic and his ministry will ensure that vaccines get into as many arms as possible.
Prince was speaking at the Argyle International Airport (AIA) where St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) had just topped up its COVID-19 vaccine supply with 40,000 doses of Covishield (Indian) AstraZeneca.
The vaccines were delivered to the AIA on board a Regional Security System (RSS) aircraft flown by Major George Harris, and are a gift from the Government of India.
It was noted during the press conference that followed the arrival of the flight that the delivery forms part of a shipment of 175,000 vaccines which have been distributed in Antigua, St Lucia and St Kitts & Nevis after they arrived on a chartered flight from Mumbai.
“This is a very good day for the ministry of health‘s fight against the pandemic,” Prince noted while adding that the latest shipment arrived in the wake of 5000 vaccines that were given to SVG by Dominica from the supply they received earlier from India.
Prince said the donation is a dent in vaccine nationalism that threatens to derail the equity which is being sought during the pandemic.
“We therefore salute the goodwill, the generosity and the continued love of the Caribbean by India,” Prince said.
He noted that health workers are ready to roll and the vaccination program has been ramped up as the ministry is implementing strategies to get people vaccinated amidst “a lot of bad press”, propaganda and misinformation.
It was revealed that from tomorrow, Wednesday, March 3, members of the public may go to the Victoria Park to be vaccinated. Health authorities are also targeting shut-ins and persons in interior communities. The nation’s 39 clinics will also be provided with vaccines so that persons may walk in and get vaccinated.
Also speaking at the briefing, Dr Arnold Thomas, on behalf of the Indian High Commission, said the vaccines, which were made in India, were given to SVG as a gesture of friendship and solidarity between the two countries.
He said India supplies low cost generic drugs to millions of people across the globe and has come to be known as “pharmacy of the world” and a producer of choice vaccines.
Thomas said COVID-19 has affected every aspect of our lives and livelihood and India has so far conducted 215 million COVID tests and has a recovery rate of 97.14 per cent and a fatality rate of 1.4 per cent.
Thomas said the pandemic has shown that India can not only innovate but also rapidly distribute time critical drugs to every part of the globe that needs it. He said that last year, India ensured timely access to essential drugs and diagnostic kits and medical equipment including masks, gloves and ventilators to over 150 countries, many on a grant basis.
He noted also that so far, under the vaccine friendship program, India has delivered over seven million doses of made in India vaccines to 15 countries on a grant basis while 25 countries in the region are under the transportation approval process.
The High Commission representative said also that India is helping over 60 countries begin the inoculation process as the country remains committed to serve and protect.
“We hope that the friendship will help St Vincent and the Grenadines in containing and eradicating the pandemic and deepen bilateral relations between the two countries,” Thomas told the gathering which was also attended by Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves, his wife Eloise, Chief Medical Officer Dr Simone Keizer Beache, permanent secretary Cuthbert Knights and vice president of the Indian Heritage Foundation Dave Baptiste.
Prime minister Gonsalves encouraged persons to get the “jab” and noted that taking the vaccine will not be made mandatory.
He thanked the prime minister of India, Narendra Damodardas Modi and noted that medical personnel the world over are of the view that being vaccinated is a very important tool in the overall toolbox to address the pandemic.
He noted also that the mask, social distancing and hand sanitization are other tools and that will be so until we achieve population immunity.