PREMIER PANTON APPEALS TO THE UNVACCINATED TO GET THE JAB
By Staff Writer
In very sombre tones, Hon. Premier Wayne Panton on Wednesday appealed to the remaining sceptical segment of the population who haven’t been vaccinated to act responsibly and get the jab.
With the government working towards an October 14th date to fully open the borders, Mr Panton stressed the significance not only in terms of what it means for the economy but the public health risk.
“It isn’t doom and gloom yet. We still have time. I believe we can work together,” he said appealing to Caymanians and all residents to look out for each other to prevent the virus from getting hold in Cayman which would be woefully detrimental to the society, especially as it works towards reopening the economy.
He had a particularly strong message for persons who continue to resist taking the vaccine and are effectively mounting personal campaigns against the vaccination campaign.
“We are going to as a Government continue to promote the uptake of the vaccine. And as people continue to resist vaccination. I want to say that you are putting yourselves, your families, your neighbours, and indeed our entire country, at risk. And I don't think that is right," he said.
"I've already heard excuses from people who do not want to take the vaccine that there are long term effects that the vaccine contains computer chips that people have died, that people have had to have organ transplants, emergency surgery. Ladies and gentlemen, all of these are our myths and lies designed to scare you by carrying out an anti-vaccine vaccination agenda.”
Mr Panton pointed to the approval of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the UK government which has been administering the vaccine with large effectiveness since last year. The UK has also been donating the Cayman Islands’ supply of the COVID-19 vaccine.
It was also stressed that there have been no reports of serious reactions or fatalities from the vaccine since the health authorities here started administering it in January.
Against that background, the Premier said the people who are not yet vaccinated would be at greater risk of contracting the virus.
He outlined a timeline of September 9th for them to get their first jab in order to have the second and be fully vaccinated by the time the economy opens up on October 14th.
“Another excuse that I've heard, for not taking the vaccine is that government is waffling. That is like giving a solid date as to when the orders will reopen. Well, ladies and gentlemen. I think most people should be familiar with our reopening plan. And the relevant date there is October 14th. That is the date that this government has set to remove all quarantine requirements. Essentially, reopening our borders. That is what I call our C-date,” he declared.
“Working backwards from the 14th of October, those who have not yet been vaccinated need to get the first shot by no later than the ninth of September.
That will give us five weeks to reach the 80% vaccination rate before we remove the quarantine requirements.”
Mr Panton also responded to concerns about the 80 per cent vaccination target set by his PACT administration calculated against a revised population from an estimated 65,000 upwards to 71,000.
“Moving the 80% requirement to October has been provisionally approved by Government, and we will finalise the changes to the reopening plan in Cabinet subsequently, but I want to emphasise that you can and should still take the vaccine anytime between today and the 9th of September.
He also said that a final decision regarding the definitive target vaccine per cent relative to the population would be determined by October 1st.
The Premier went on to state that he was mindful that with the full reopening of the borders, comes a heightened risk of the virus spreading and putting unvaccinated people at greater risk of serious illness if they contract the disease.
He also referenced the recent outbreak in the British Virgin Islands where the greater majority of people who contracted COVID-19 and those who succumbed to the virus were unvaccinated.
Addressing the issue of vaccine mandates, Mr Panton said policies are being looked at regarding work permit applications and renewals but said for the time being the government is allowing local businesses to implement their own protocols pertaining to staff and customers.
It was also pointed out that with the upcoming reopening of the borders residents could expect the likelihood of restrictions on public gatherings to suppress the risk of the virus spreading in the community.
Premier Panton also reminded that the government’s published reopening plan includes the likelihood of mask-wearing and social distancing as part of local guidelines.
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