Antigua & Barbuda: Cabinet reviews plans for upcoming vaccination drive

Antigua and Barbuda: The Cabinet called the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) and an I.T. Expert from the Ministry of Health to address the rules and systems that will be put in place to deliver vaccines to front-line workers and others, beginning next week and when new vaccines arrive in Antigua after that.

i. The CMO notified that the object of vaccinating the Antigua and Barbuda population is to curtail the coronavirus’s spread and ensure the destination’s safety. At the moment, the CMO reported, the system of certifying those who receive the vaccine is in keeping with past practice and the recording system proposed by PAHO/WHO. A manual system will commence until the data can be inputted into an electronic data system. The e-system to be used, the I.T. Expert informed, will be operational in 14 days, following the license’s granting and the certification by the relevant authorities. Each person vaccinated will be given a card/certificate, and the data will be entered into the database for examination by relevant authorities when necessary.

ii. It is agreed that frontline workers will be among the first to receive the vaccine when they arrive in Antigua. It is estimated that the 5,000 doses, which Dominica will share with Antigua and Barbuda, will come to Antigua tomorrow, Thursday, February 11, 2021. The vaccines will be transported by an RSS aircraft to Antigua and the other OECS countries, which will be gifted the vaccines by Dominica. The doses will serve 2,500 frontline workers; batch mixing is not a good idea, the CMO informed. All necessary preparations to receive and to store the vaccines are already in place.

iii. The Frontline workers include the nurses and doctors at the MSJMC, the nurses and doctor at the Hannah Thomas Hospital in Barbuda, the police, Immigration, Customs Officers, Camp Blizzard, and teachers with co-morbidities and vulnerable students. A registry will be established to list all those who will receive from the first batch beginning next week.

At no cost, iv. Forty thousand doses will be dispatched to Antigua and Barbuda by the Indian Government shortly. However, the precise arrival date has not yet been fixed, and the Prime Minister has written seeking an additional 100,000 doses to be paid for by the government. A charter aircraft will have to fly the doses into Antigua. Other Caribbean countries likely to receive from India will also share in the expense of the charter flight. Forty thousand doses will also be delivered under the COVAX agreement.

v. Healthcare workers and private medical practitioners and their staff are among the second group receiving the vaccines from the second dispatch to arrive. The vaccines will quickly serve those elderly citizens living in long-term care facilities and the elderly living in communities and villages. Everyone who aspires to be vaccinated will be given an opportunity. Parliamentarians and Cabinet staff are also to be vaccinated. The Cabinet continues to urge all residents of Antigua and Barbuda to ready themselves. An Education Committee has been established to teach the population of the vaccine’s importance.

vi. Thus far, in February 2021, approximately 139 new infections have been reported; every effort has to be made to reduce that rate, the Cabinet and the CMO agreed. More of us must abide by the protocols.

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