National Address on the COVID-19 Vaccination Program by Health Minister, the Honourable Sir Molwyn Joseph
I thought it important to make this national statement as we bring to a close the first phase of the national vaccination programme and begin preparations for the startup of the second phase.
Just over one year ago, our nation was confronted by an invisible enemy with the first case of the Covid-19 virus detected in Antigua and Barbuda. The government moved swiftly to institute programmes and protocols to arrest the spread of the virus.
It was a monumental task, but today we can say that our country has done well in preventing mass spread of the illness and death.
Since the advent of the illness to our shores, we have recorded 963 confirmed cases, 598 recoveries and 338 active cases.
Sadly, the virus has claimed 27 lives.
On behalf of the entire government and the officials of the Ministry of Health, I convey our deepest condolences to the families of those who died. It is my hope that their memories will continue to live on and bring us comfort.
As one of your government’s efforts to arrest the spread of the virus, we commenced a vaccination programme with the AstraZenica vaccine donated by the governments of Dominica and India.
We once again place on record our profound thanks to Prime Minister Skerritt and Modi for this demonstration of what is great about our humanity.
The first phase of the National Covid-19 Vaccination Programme began on March 1, 2021 and was a success. I therefore deem it appropriate to recognize those individuals whose commitment, dedication and hard work accounted for these positive results.
Permit me to start with thanking the Almighty father for imbuing in all of us in Antigua and Barbuda a national zeal to make the responsible decision to get vaccinated.
The Nurses, Doctors, Technicians, Police and many volunteers all embraced their responsibility with a national fervor never before seen in Antigua and Barbuda.
This is an important period in our history requiring full participation of all citizens and residents. I therefore commend the entire population for responding to the call of being individually responsible to avail themselves to be vaccinated.
In two weeks we vaccinated close to 25,000 citizens and residents in Antigua and Barbuda. Had we the necessary quantity of vaccines, that number would have been significantly higher.
The public would be aware that emphasis was placed on prioritizing the elderly 65 years and over to be vaccinated. This was done based on the data showing that the elderly are the most vulnerable and have suffered the highest rate of the hospitalizations and deaths not only in Antigua and Barbuda but globally.
We will now work through our clinics over the next few days to ensure that all the elderly in the communities are identified and inoculated.
The other priority groups vaccinated are:
Airport Authority (including LIAT)
Central Board of Health
Security Forces (Defense, Police, Immigration, ONDCP)
Clarevue Psychiatric Hospital
Private Nursing Homes
Social Transformation and Government IT
Medical Benefits Scheme
St. John’s Hospice,
MSJMC and EMS
Persons with disabilities
Persons with comorbidities which we also refer to as underlying health conditions.
Our goal in this phase is to vaccinate 27,000 Antiguans and Barbudans at the end of this phase.
We anticipate that the vaccination program will record a total of 27,000 vaccinated in Antigua and Barbuda by the end of this week.
As was made public recently, the Government decided to use 7,000 of the 20,000 vaccines held back for the second dose for those who would have already received their first dose. This leaves 13,000 doses available for the second dose.
However, the Government has been notified that a shipment of the first COVAX allocation of 14,400 doses will arrive in Antigua by the end of this month. 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.
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 third and final phase of distribution, will be exclusively for the administering of the second 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. It has been established that all of the vaccines prevent hospitalizations and deaths. I therefore implore you to avail yourselves at the earliest opportunity to be vaccinated. It is a decision that is in the best interest of yourself, your family and your community.
However, we must continue to strictly adhere to the Covid-19 protocols with consistency. Wear your masks, practice social distancing, wash and sanitize your hands and build your immune system.
Each Vaccinated! ALL Protected!