By Shermain Bique-Charles
Just about nine months after it was first unveiled as a plan to ensure equitable access to Covid-19 vaccines, the first shipment under the World Health Organisations COVAX facility is expected to land on Antigua today.
The COVAX initiative marks the largest vaccine procurement in history, the WHO said, noting that the program’s goal is to distribute at least 2 billion doses by the end of 2021.
While these efforts have seen setback due to hoarding of vaccine doses in more developed countries, the twin island State is set to welcome 24,000 AstraZeneca vaccine doses at 1 pm today.
About 27,032 people have already received their first vaccine doses based on the latest report from the Ministry of Health.
The vaccine delivery has now enabled the recommencement of the public Covid-19 vaccination campaign, with doses being placed on reserve, so that people who have already gotten their first jab will get their second dose beginning in May.
The Ministry of Health said in a statement yesterday afternoon that Phase 2 of its public vaccination programme will commence on Tuesday, 13thApril 2021, starting at 9:00 am.
Fourteen thousand doses will be separated from this arriving batch to replenish vaccines that were utilized under Phase 1 of the national Covid-19 vaccination programme, according to health officials, ensuring that all 27,000 doses are in place for second doses in May.
The remaining 10,000 doses will be used for first doses under Phase 2 of the public vaccination programme.
The four vaccination sites under Phase 2 are the Villa Polyclinic, the Glanvilles Polyclinic, the Multipurpose Culture and Exhibition Centre and the Precision Centre in Paynters. The public vaccination sites will operate on Mondays to Fridays from 9:00 am to 3:30 pm.
Health experts are encouraging the public to actively participate in Phase 2 of the Covid-19 vaccination programme to create herd immunity, where the majority of the population is protected from becoming seriously ill from Covid-19.
“With herd immunity, it is expected that the country will return to some degree of normalcy, which will include the facilitation of economic, social and cultural activities and the ease of travel,” the statement said.
Meanwhile, representatives from the Covid-19 Vaccine Registration Call Centre have commenced the ‘Post first dose survey’ in preparation for the second dose, and the verification and updating of information in the National Vaccine Registration Database.
The public is advised that only representatives from the listed registration hotline numbers will be conducting this survey.
The Ministry of Health, Wellness, and the Environment wishes to remind the public that pre-registration for the Covid-19 vaccine continues. For online registration, please visit www.vaccineantiguabarbuda.com and select the “Vaccine Registration” tab.
Upon clicking the tab, you will be required to fill out your general information, and when completed, click “submit.”
Your registration is then completed. Registration call centre numbers are 788-8299, 736-8295, 736-8298, 736-8299, 780-8618, 780- 8652, 780-8678 and 780-8461, Mondays through to Fridays from 9:00am to 3:30 pm, and closed on public holidays and weekends.
Pre-registration is vital for efficiency in the next phase of the vaccination process.
The general public is also advised to secure their vaccination cards as they are required for the second Covid-19 vaccine dose which will commence in May, 2021.