by Bria King
More than 1300 persons in St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) have been vaccinated against COVID-19, while others remain sceptical about receiving the jabs.
But Dr Simone Keizer-Beache, the chief medical officer told SEARCHLIGHT that health authorities are satisfied that the process is going steadily and that it will gradually improve as more and more persons have been expressing their interest in being vaccinated.
Health officials disclosed yesterday that a total of 1330 doses of the vaccines have been administered locally. This accounts for a little more than one per cent of this country’s total population.
Statistics show that 1325 persons have received their first dose, while five persons have received both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.
This includes 1305 doses of the Covishield (Indian) AstraZeneca vaccine and 25 doses of the Sputnik V Russian COVID-19 vaccine.
SVG received 5000 doses of the Covishield (Indian) AstraZeneca vaccine on February 11, which was used to kickstart SVG’s vaccination drive by way of a soft launch three days later.
Keizer-Beache noted that the soft launch approach was taken with the intention to have a gradual build-up because the country only received a limited number of vaccines.
She said that while health authorities are awaiting larger volumes of COVID-19 vaccines to arrive in SVG, “we are putting things in place to ramp up in terms of the campaign to get persons to take it, recognising that…there are persons out there who have some questions”.
“We are giving ourselves some time, even as we await the larger volumes, to let persons be … able to answer questions and let them be able to do their research…allow persons to hear, to see, to do their own checks, their own readings and so on and come to an informed decision,” the chief medical officer said.
Other countries in the region are also preparing to fully launch their COVID-19 vaccination drives once vaccines become available.
Barbados, one of SVG’s close neighbours has already started vaccinating its citizens after receiving Covishield (Indian) AstraZeneca vaccines earlier in February as well.
Recent reports indicate that more than 25,000 people in Barbados have already received the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
“If you look at Barbados, they are clocking 1200 per day…. granted their population is more than twice ours, but we are satisfied that things are going steady right now and they are gradually building up and we’re getting more and more persons being interested,” Keizer-Beache told SEARCHLIGHT.
The AstraZeneca vaccine is administered in two doses, which means the 5000 doses given to SVG are enough to vaccinate 2500 citizens.
But the chief medical officer said all 5000 will be used to administer the first dose to willing Vincentians, with the second dose being from additional vaccines that will hopefully arrive in the country by next week.
Maxine Glasgow-Cottle, the senior statistical officer in the Ministry of Health said yesterday that of those vaccinated in SVG, 150 are healthcare workers – 11.3 per cent of the total number of persons vaccinated.
Healthcare workers include doctors, nurses, laboratory technicians and attendants. They are also among the priority groups identified locally to receive the COVID-19 vaccines.
Other groups identified include persons with underlying conditions such as hypertension and diabetes, and persons over 65 years of age.
According to statistics presented by Glasgow-Cottle, most of the persons vaccinated so far are in the 55-to-64-year age group. This group accounts for almost 22 per cent of persons vaccinated.
They are followed by the 65-to-74-year age group, which accounts for 19.5 per cent of the total persons vaccinated so far.
Almost 15 per cent of the persons vaccinated are between 45 and 54 years old.
Younger persons are also volunteering to be vaccinated, with almost 5 per cent being between 18 and 24 years old, and 10.77 per cent being between 25 to 34 years old.
The majority of vaccines administered are spread across four health districts.
As at February 25, 381 vaccines had been administered in the Calliaqua Health District; 302 were administered in the Kingstown Health District; 206 were administered in the Northern Grenadines Health District; and 178 in the Marriaqua Health District.
Persons interested in being vaccinated can register to do so by sending their name, address, age, gender and contact number to [email protected] or filling out a Google form, which is available via the Ministry of Health social media pages.