The Government of Montserrat is stepping up its efforts to persuade residents to take the COVID-19 Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine being administered on the island.
The rate of uptake on Montserrat has been slower than other Overseas Territories with 1,321 persons receiving their first dose and 976 persons have received their second dose since the roll-out started in February.
Montserrat’s population is around 4,500.
Some people are reluctant to take the vaccine over fears that it might be linked to several deaths.
The circulation of conspiracy theories also seems to be playing a big part in vaccine hesitancy of the island.
In an effort to reassure the public, the government has referred to local hospital records showing that of a total of 14 deaths on Montserrat from February this year only two of the deceased had received their first dose of the vaccine.
“There was no indication based on investigations carried out by the Ministry that these persons died as a result of any complications related to the COVID-19 vaccine which they received,” the government said in a statement.
“The Ministry of Health & Social Services works in conjunction with other stakeholders to investigate all instances of sudden deaths. It can be confirmed that there were two sudden deaths over the past days which are currently under investigation,” it said, urging the public to remain calm while the result of the post-mortems are awaited.
In light of the continuing debate, the Ministry is also asking that “the general public remains mindful of the feelings of the relatives of the deceased during this very difficult time.”
Montserrat's Chief Medical Officer, Dr Sharra Greenaway-Duberry said the risk of adverse reactions to the Oxford AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine are very minimal and that the benefits have been proven to far outweigh the risks.