Statement from the Minister of Health and Social Development on the arrival of pediatric doses of the Pfizer vaccine

STATEMENT BY THE HONORABLE MARLON PENN

MINISTER OF HEALTH AND SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT

ARRIVAL OF PEDIATRIC DOSES OF THE PFIZER VACCINE

May 12, 2022

Greetings to residents and visitors to these beautiful Virgin Islands. I am Marlon Penn, Minister of Health and Social Development and am pleased to lend my voice to this critical topic of vaccination and COVID-19 in this new position.

Yesterday, additional doses of the pediatric formulation of the Pfizer vaccine arrived in the Virgin Islands. These doses are intended to ensure that children who have already received their initial doses of the Pfizer vaccine can complete their vaccination cycle and be considered fully vaccinated.

The Government and people of the Virgin Islands continue to be grateful for the UK Government’s continued support and assistance in the Virgin Islands’ response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The UK Government has provided and continues to provide invaluable support in the areas of vaccines, but also technical support in a number of public health related areas and the provision of supplies and equipment to support the territory’s response. to the COVID pandemic. This has included antiviral drugs, ventilators, medical supplies all of which have enhanced our preparedness and supported our response to keep the Virgin Islands safe during this difficult time.

As the pandemic has changed over the past two years, we have seen the emergence of new strains of COVID-19. Fortunately, the current Omicron variant and its associated subvariants, although more contagious, continue to be associated with much milder disease than previous variants. This, combined with increased levels of immunity in populations through vaccination and natural immunity and the judicious application of public measures, has led to a relaxation of public health measures across the world and a concurrent reopening of societies and economies. In this context, the responsibility has shifted from governments to individuals to ensure their own personal safety and make sensible decisions for themselves, their families and their relationships.

Vaccination remains a wise personal choice for people who have chosen it as one of their protection strategies. Although current vaccines are not as effective against these newer variants and subvariants circulating, it is still an important strategy, especially for the most vulnerable people who are more likely to have severe disease. This includes the elderly and immunocompromised people.

The Virgin Islands government, with the invaluable help of the UK government, remains committed to ensuring that people who want access to vaccines continue to have access. The arrival and receipt of these pediatric doses of Pfizer vaccination bear witness to this commitment. For that, we and the parents of the children who will receive these doses are grateful.

From the 10and of March, a total of 19,299 people or 64% of the population received COVID-19 vaccines with 17,886 or 59.6% having received two doses and 59.6% having received 3 doses.

While the BVI is currently experiencing an increase in COVID-19 cases, today we are reporting 155 active cases with a total of 387 new cases reported in the past month since 10and From April. It is important that people continue to take personal responsibility for protecting themselves and limiting the spread of disease in the community. As a reminder, the reduction in public health measures signals a shift from government to individuals making their own decisions about protecting against COVID-19.

Therefore, if you think you have symptoms of COVID-19, isolate yourself from others and get tested as soon as possible. If you test positive, you must isolate yourself from others for a period of 10 days. You can test on day 7 and if negative you can end isolation precautions. However, all people who test positive should ensure they wear a properly fitted mask and avoid contact with vulnerable people for a full 14 days.

Individuals who have been exposed to a confirmed positive case, meaning they have had close contact without a mask with that positive case for 15 minutes or more, should self-isolate and wear a properly fitted mask when in presence of other people. They should aim to be tested within 5-7 days and continue to observe themselves for symptoms for a full 14 days. Contact with vulnerable people should be avoided to minimize their risk.

I recognize that we have all been affected in one way or another by this disease. However, we must not tire of ensuring that we take care of the most vulnerable members of our population, the elderly and those with underlying illnesses as well as ourselves. Let’s all stay vigilant because we have to coexist with this disease.

Thank you and God bless you.

Joel C. Hicks