Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Dr John Lee is urging persons in the 16 - 44 age group to come forward and get their COVID-19 vaccination.
In an update on the ongoing vaccination campaign, Dr Lee reports that since the campaign started in January, 55 per cent of the population have already received one dose and 67% of those over 16 years of age based on the estimated population of 65,000.
The Pfizer vaccination is administered in two doses three weeks apart in Cayman.
That means that to date Pubic Health Cayman have administered 65,497 doses with 30,068 receiving the required two doses and the other 35,429 getting their first jab.
CMO Dr Lee says: “We have good vaccination rates for people over 50 years of age, but for those between 16 and 50 years old, the rate is 44%. The country is looking forward to the borders opening, and to make the population safe, we need to have widespread coverage of all those eligible.”
Reassuring that “the vaccination is very safe”, Dr Lee says, “although many people have side effects for a day or two, and often only after the second dose, the risks of getting seriously ill or dying from COVID-19 by far outweigh the minor side effects that some people suffer.”
And directing his message to persons aged between 16 and 50 years old where the uptake of the vaccine in Cayman is comparatively low, he points to the situation in Brazil where persons under 40 years old are among the most infected.
“In Brazil during April 2021, more than 50% of intensive care beds were occupied by patients aged less than 40, and we know that Variants of Concern are affecting the young more,” Dr Lee reminds.
“COVID-19 is raging around the globe but the Cayman Islands has the precious resource of vaccinations,” he adds, and urges “let’s not waste this gift in the face of the world’s gaze; people are desperate for vaccinations in countries where patients can’t get enough oxygen and respiratory support.”
The current outbreak in India is a case in point where oxygen and other crucial supplies to combat the virus are running dangerously low.
According to the CMO: “Through the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office(FCDO) of the United Kingdom, we have been provided around 90,000 vaccinations which is enough to give 45,000 people a course of two injections. Our last scheduled delivery was on 7th April, and the last batches expire at the end of June 2021.”
For persons who have not taken their jab, the CMO stress that “our last scheduled delivery of vaccines will expire at the end of June so your first dose needs to be by 9th June.”
“Please come forward to protect yourself, protect the community and do the right thing,” he urges.
While peak demand for first doses of the vaccinations has declined considerably from its height in March, Dr Lee says the Owen Roberts International Airport site will remain in operation for a few more weeks for our final drive.”
There are many benefits to the community from taking the vaccine iDr Lee points out.
These include: protecting the most vulnerable from the infection as the virus cannot get a good hold, individuals won’t pass the virus to those most vulnerable, and in you get infected, the vaccine offers high protection against moderate to severe disease, hospitalisation and death.
Other benefits are listed as:
• the chances of getting ‘long COVID’ after even a mild infection (where symptoms persisting for months or years) will be hugely reduced
• studies from Israel have shown that protection from high vaccination will even benefit children
• travel abroad will be safer
• allowing travellers into the Cayman Islands will be safer
• large scale outdoor gatherings will become a far safer prospect
• and, as the world improves, the duration of quarantine will reduce further and hopefully will no longer be required.