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By Kadeem Joseph

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The Minister of Health has announced that Antigua and Barbuda will receive thousands of vaccine doses through the World Health Organization’s COVAX facility by the end of March.

Sir Molwyn Joseph said 14,400 doses are expected in this first tranche from the global initiative. This is the latest timeline given for the arrival of these vaccines.

“Those 14,400 doses will be held along with the 13,000 doses to make up the 27,000 doses needed for the third phase for the 27,000 persons who would have already received their first dose,” Joseph explained.

According to the minister, the government is nearing the end of the first phase of the vaccination programme with a total of 27,000 individuals expected to have received an initial dose by Friday.

Health officials are also expected to identify and inoculate elderly individuals throughout the week with the help of district clinics.

The government has so far been gifted 5,000 vaccine doses from the government of Dominica and 40,000 from India, of which 5,000 were in turn given to Grenada.

The government began its vaccination campaign against Covid-19 on March 1 2021.

“In the second phase, we expect to have no less than 100,000 vaccines to be distributed; 50 percent or 50,000 will be administered as the first dose and the other 50,000 will be held for the second dose which will be distributed in the third phase,” the health minister said further.

The government is hoping that the third and final phase of the vaccination programme, which will begin in May and end in June, will cover the administration of the second vaccine dose for all individuals who would have been vaccinated previously. This phase is expected to begin in May and end in June.

“The Covid-19 vaccines are the most effective weapons in fighting this dreadful pandemic,” Joseph said. “It has been established that all of the vaccines prevent hospitalisations and deaths. I therefore implore you to avail yourselves at the earliest opportunity to be vaccinated.”