The Cayman Islands Government (CIG) is getting ready to roll out the COVID-19 vaccine to residents.
Making the announcement in Parliament on Thursday, Hon. Premier Alden McLaughlin stressed that getting vaccinated will be voluntary, but he urged the public to keep an open mind about the individual and community benefits.
“I underline that taking the vaccine is voluntary. While the vaccine has yet to arrive in the Cayman Islands, I would like to take this opportunity to encourage all those people listening to these proceedings to do their due diligence, and to keep their minds open to the many benefits that participation in the voluntary national vaccination programme will offer.”
It is expected that the vaccine will be in the jurisdiction by January when a national vaccination programme will start.
“We are hopeful that Cayman will see its first batch arrive in the first week of next year. We anticipate receiving a sufficient number of vaccines in the first batch to immunise several thousand people,” Premier McLaughlin disclosed.
He said, “To support the OT’s in the fight against this virus the UK Government is arranging to deliver supplies of vaccinations and it is anticipated the deliveries will start in early January.”
The Premier informed that already elaborate preparations are currently being made for the vaccination roll-out along with a public information campaign.
“The Health Services Authority has large quantities of syringes, needles, sharps boxes and equipment on order for delivery of the doses.
Specialised freezers have also been ordered by the Health Services Authority, and there is already one such freezer at Health City Cayman Islands with spare capacity able to meet our needs.”
Senior management and Public Health teams at the Health Services Authority have said they are confident “they will be able to commence this mass vaccination programme using existing resources,” he reported.
Both public and private healthcare providers are being consulted “to better inform them of the plans and to allow them to offer their resources to deliver the vaccinations.”
“Health officials believe that with all preparations in place they should be able to vaccinate some 3,000 people per week. Once the vaccine arrives on Island a number of groups have been prioritised for the voluntary vaccination.”
THE ROLL-OUT PLAN
Vaccinations will be administered to various categories of residents in two stages.
In Stage One are healthcare workers and institutional residents, along with frontline customer facing staff working at ports who are constantly exposed to the risks from travellers.
It also includes persons over the age of 60, those suffering from conditions liable to put them at increased risk if they were to contract Covid-19, and workers who are essential for the continuity of Government services.
The second stage of the voluntary vaccination programme will include essential service workers, teachers and school staff, as well as persons living in the households of anyone from the stage one vaccination programme.
FURTHER BORDER OPENING PLANNED
Coinciding with the announcement of the planned roll-out of the vaccination campaign, the Premier also updated on the next phase of the opening of the territory’s borders.
“The Ministry of Health has proposed the further opening of borders after Stage Two, around one month into the start of the overall vaccination programme, by which time we should have vaccinated our most vulnerable,” he stated.
That comes with a number of restrictions for people arriving from overseas.
All travellers entering the Islands must be able to show that they have received an approved vaccine course against the virus which causes COVID- 6 19.
This should have been completed before arrival, according to recommendations by the Public Health Department. They must also receive negative results from a PCR test upon arrival. Persons who meet these conditions will be exempted from quarantine, if living in households where the other residents have also received a vaccine.
Also, persons who are exempted from quarantine in this manner, including their households, will be required to undergo repeat testing on day 5, day 10 and day 15 following the arrival date.
Regular PCR screening will continue with safety restrictions for healthcare workers, healthcare establishments, nursing homes and prisons.
Persons involved in hosting travellers, including all port workers, hotel workers, restauranteurs, bar workers, leisure companies, taxi drivers and anyone else working in tourism, will be required to be screened for COVID-19 at regular intervals.
The final stage of the vaccination programme will cover the remainder of the population for whom the vaccines are intended, the Premier stated.
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