By Leon Norville
A new Covid-19 vaccine option is now on the table for people who were hesitant about taking the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine since the country rolled out its National Vaccination Program earlier this year.
It is the Chinese manufactured Sinopharm vaccine that the country was recently gifted.
On Thursday of last week, the vaccine was made available for the Chinese population. Now the vaccine can be administered to anyone if that is his or her preferred vaccination choice.
Health Minister Sir Molwyn Joseph told Observer, “I am very pleased with the fact that we have another vaccine to give the people of Antigua and Barbuda, giving them an option with the Sinopharm. The public wanted options and we have delivered speedily.”
The Sinopharm vaccine will be offered at the Multi-Purpose Cultural Centre and the main health centres, including All Saints, Browne’s Avenue, Bishopgate Street, Gray’s Farm, Jennings, Newfield and Clare Hall.
Although Sinopharm has not released data on how their Covid-19 vaccines perform against new variants. Scientific studies conducted before the emergence of the Delta variant showed that the Sinopharm jab was up to 79% effective in preventing Covid-19 infections.
Minister Joseph also took the time out to encourage the public to get vaccinated so that the country can achieve herd immunity, which is especially important in ensuring our return to some level of normalcy.
Herd immunity will also result in increased economic activity, which he said is slow at the moment.
“We continue to urge people to look at the facts, as there is no evidence to show the Covid-19 vaccines are unsafe. Apart from the people who cannot take the vaccine because of health reasons, everyone else should make the effort to be vaccinated to protect not only themselves, but others,” the Minister added.
He said that the country needs to have between 70-80 percent of the population vaccinated to provide the level of protection we need from the Covid-19 virus.
The Minister said that the Sputnik V is already approved for use in the country, and the logistics are being worked out to have it rolled out shortly, again increasing the country’s Covid-19 vaccination options for all.
As of now, the last batch of the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine is set to expire at the end of August, and will be available only at the Villa Polyclinic, and at the All Saints and Browne’s Avenue Clinics, and in Barbuda.