All 9,750 doses of the first batch of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine will now be administered in the first phase of the national voluntary vaccination campaign instead of being spread across two doses as previously planned.
This means that instead of 4,875 persons being vaccinated in the first round with two doses each three weeks apart, the new target is for 9,750 people to receive their first injection.
The second of the two doses will be administered to those persons when the next consignment of the vaccine arrives later this month.
It is understood that reduces the likelihood of having a gap in the vaccination campaign.
A further 339 people have received the COVID-19 vaccine on Friday bringing the total number to 4,435 out of what would have been 4,875 had the original plan continued.
That could have also meant a possible lag until the next consignment of the drug arrives from the UK.
A government press release on Friday afternoon quoted HE Governor Martyn Roper confirming that “the UK will be sending a further 9,750 doses on the British Airways flight arriving on 28th January, and is making arrangements for a third delivery in February.”
Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Dr John Lee said: “The vaccines arriving later this month will be used for the second dose for persons who have received their first dose.
“We are monitoring continuously the quantities available and will open up the various stages according to our supply,” he stated.
Medical Officer of Health, Dr Samuel Williams-Rodriguez says the uptake of the vaccine has been very positive with many persons eager to get protected from the virus.”
However, he is asking that the public to wait until their stage and group are opened “so that we can ensure our most vulnerable have access to the vaccine.”
The vaccine is being administered in three stages covering various age and occupational groups starting with the Over-60s and frontline health and other staff.
Public Health has also been providing vaccines to home care patients, as they are most vulnerable to the virus. Patients receiving home care from a private physician can contact Public Health to arrange a vaccination to be administered in their homes.
“I’d like to thank all of the Public Health nurses and other staff at the HSA who have pulled together to launch this vaccination campaign throughout our community and the Sister Islands”, Dr Lee said.
“They have done an amazing job so far, and I know it has involved a great deal of hard work and long days”.
STAGE ONE ROLLOUT CONTINUES
Medical Officer of Health Dr Williams added, “Now that we have opened up vaccinations to all of stage 1, individuals aged 60 and over, and persons with conditions such as heart, lung or kidney disease or a weakened immune system are now eligible for the vaccination.”
Dr Williams further explained that eligibility for receiving the vaccines is determined by the nurses and some persons have been turned away and asked that they return during their appropriate stage.
“We are keeping some reserves for anyone in Stage 1 who has not been able to access the vaccine during this initial campaign. We have also found that the five dose vials we have been sent often provide for six doses, which is increasing the numbers we are able to reach; this is in line with supplies around the world,” he said.
Public Health says it will continue to provide the vaccination to persons in Stage 1, Group A, B & C.
The system for administering the vaccine is divided into three stages with the focus now on Stage One which is comprised of three groups.
Group A: Residents and staff of institutional facilities, persons aged 70+, healthcare workers and first responders, and all frontline staff dealing with incoming travellers.
Group B: Persons aged 60+ or with a medical condition affecting their heart, lung or kidney disease or a weakened immune system.
Group C: Workers essential to Government continuity.
Persons receiving the vaccine must wear a facemask, present a Government photo ID and sign the COVID-19 vaccine consent form. The form is available at https://hsa.ky/public-health/coronavirus/ or https://bit.ly/3ot0IG3.
Those attending the COVID Vaccine Clinic at the Cayman Islands Hospital, are advised to park at the Seventh Day Adventist Church adjacent to A&E.
Sister Islands residents in Stage 1 who would like to receive the vaccine should call 925-1190 to make a booking.
SIX MORE POSITIVE CASES
Meanwhile, on Friday CMO Lee reported that 414 COVID-19 tests have been carried out since over the previous 24 hours.
Six were positive.
The individuals are asymptomatic travellers who tested positive following routine screening on arrival in Cayman. They will remain in isolation until considered recovered.
They had all provided negative test results as part of the new arrival requirements for travel.
The number of people in isolation, either at a government facility or in their homes, as required by the Medical Officer of Health, is 1,434.