Apart from a few isolated cases of quarantined travelers, the Cayman Islands are for all intents and purposes, Covid-free and a new vaccine may mean that Island nation may soon be able to welcome visitors to its shores once again.
The prospect of jumpstarting the Islands’ crucial tourism industry, nearly one year after international lockdowns halted travel around the world may now be a reality due to a new vaccine that many say has a 94 percent success rate against the Virus.
Nearly ten thousand doses of the Covid-19 vaccine arrived in the Cayman Islands from the UK, via British Airways for public distribution on Tuesday 5th January, may do just that.
Pfizer BioNTech has being touted by many governments around the world as the vaccine of choice, and has the distinction of being the first vaccine to receive the ‘green light’ in countries, such as the United Kingdom, Canada and the European Union.
The Caymanian Times spoke to some of the Islands’ residents about the prospect of taking the vaccine, which health officials have said is entirely a voluntary exercise.
“Well I think that it’s something that could be a game changer in terms of us being able to open our borders up and protect the most vulnerable among us,’ noted Gordon Samuels, who explained that if we do not try, we already know what to expect, so we should try in order to give ourselves a chance at other outcomes.
The vaccines will initially be available to those aged 70 and over and individuals in high risk categories such as, healthcare workers and other frontline staff.
Those who are vaccinated will be given a stamped certificate of record.
“I certainly won’t be running to the front of the line to take it but if I see that people are taking it and having no adverse affects, I will take submit to it. There are some places in the world today that have require vaccines for travelers,” noted Keishawn Lint, who had been working in the tourism industry before the Covid-19 crisis.
Cayman Islands Health Minister, the Honorable Dwayne Seymour has asked the public to continue to look out for one another and protect the community and acknowledged that it could take many months to see the effects of the vaccine.
Public officials are also taking the vaccine during the first stages of its roll out, with His Excellency the Governor Martyn Roper and Cayman Islands Premier Alden McLaughlin getting their jab on Thursday, 7th January.
“After being invited to do so, I received the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccination today at George Town Hospital alongside the Hon. Premier,” noted the Governor, who added:
“It is Important that leaders show their commitment to taking the vaccine. Everything went well and I feel fine.”
Upon seeing that public officials had taken the vaccine, George Town Resident Chris Conroy noted that he would still need some convincing but was relieved that those in the halls of Government were, “trying to set an example”.
“I like that they are taking it themselves are not necessarily pushing it on us. I would love to travel again at some point and if the news continues to be positive, then that’s a good sign,” he remarked.
Another Resident who asked not to be named explained that though he felt things were being rushed through a bit, “At the end of the day we have to try something.
“I am at the point now where I think we just have to try. The damage being done to people around the world, due to lockdown are almost as harmful or worse. Therefore I think we owe it to ourselves, as humanity to try to remedy this thing any way we can. At least to get it under controls someway, somehow,” he noted.
When there is more availability of the Covid vaccine, those aged 60 and above - who are part of the first stage of the vaccination campaign - will receive their doses.
The vaccine is not currently recommended for children under 16, pregnant women or women who plan to be pregnant within the next three months.
Persons with a history of immediate onset anaphylaxis to a vaccine, medicine or food should also abstain.
More information about the Vaccination Programme and its rollout can be found under the FAQ section at www.gov.ky/coronavirus.