The Cayman Islands Government received its first shipment of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine on Tuesday, 5 January 2021 when 9750 doses arrived on the British Airways flight. Nine thousand seven hundred and fifty doses of the vaccine are expected to arrive. Pfizer-BioNTech was the first vaccine to receive approval in the United Kingdom (UK) and it has since been approved by healthcare regulatory agencies around the world, including Canada, the European Union and the United States of America.
The Ministry of Health has been working closely with the Health Services Authority’s Public Health department to implement the roll out process for the vaccine. Health officials emphasise that the vaccine will be voluntary and encourage residents to do their own research when making decisions for their families. More information can be found under the FAQ section of www/gov.ky/coronavirus. Those who are vaccinated will be given a stamped certificate of record.
“I understand the concerns of many in the community regarding the swift pace of the development of the COVID-19 vaccine but I want to reassure everyone this process has been as stringent as possible. The challenge of the pandemic has sped up the development process as did prompt, worldwide funding. The duration of the trials has not been shortened in anyway, and normal safety measures have remained in place,” – Dr John Lee, Chief Medical Officer.
“This news is truly a beacon of hope at the end of what has been a long and hard road for so many. We will work through all our vaccination stages as more doses become available, but at the moment we are focusing on those most at risk, including the older members of our population. If you have a moment, please take a look at my video on the myths around the COVID-19 vaccine on the CIG-TV YouTube channel or on the Government Facebook page,” Dr Lee added.
The vaccines will initially be available to those aged 70 and over, certain patients in high risk categories, healthcare workers and other high risk frontline staff. It will be taken to those who are housebound and administered by a public health official, should members of the public desire this option. When there is better availability of the vaccines, the offering will extend to those aged 60 and above who are part of the first stage of vaccination.
The vaccine is not currently recommended for children under 16, pregnant women or women who plan to be pregnant within the next three months. Persons with a history of immediate onset anaphylaxis to a vaccine, medicine or food should also not receive the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.
As further supplies become available, a staged approach will see other groups receive the vaccine, based on the risk to their health posed by the viral illness.
Noting that it would take many months to see the effects of the vaccine Health Minister, the Honourable Dwayne Seymour, called for Caymanians and residents to continue to look out for one another and protect the community. “I want to remind everyone that after the vaccine arrives we can all stay safe by practicing distancing in public places, washing our hands regularly, wearing a face covering where required, and avoiding touching surfaces in high traffic areas. Exercising and staying healthy also offer some protection,” said Mr Seymour.
For more information on the Covid-19 vaccine interested persons should visit: https://www.exploregov.ky/faqs/covid19-vaccine.
- The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine needs to be stored at ultra-low temperatures and the
appropriate freezers are now in place at the HSA. The vaccine is the mRNA type
which stands for ‘messenger RiboNucleic Acid’, which delivers genetic material to
the person who is vaccinated to trick the body into producing viral proteins, which
then stimulate immune responses.
The mRNA itself is destroyed very quickly by the body so no original infectious
material is used in this type of vaccine.