Chief Medical Officer Dr. Hazel Laws during a media interview (Spokesman file)

BASSETERRE, St.Kitts (Friday 5th March 2021)- Individuals in St.Kitts-Nevis need not to worry about what phase number of priority groups they fall into as it relates to the National COVID-19 Vaccination Rollout programme since the health authorities are no longer following that order system.

Such information comes in accordance with what the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Dr. Hazel Laws said as part of the situation report given at the weekly National Emergency Operations Centre (NEOC) COVID-19 Briefing held on Wednesday 3rd March 2021- the day she reported that is she among the over 2000 individuals who have been vaccinated so far.

“Go to the nearest health centre irrespective of the priority group. So ladies and gentlemen this week Monday, we would have received an additional 20,000 doses of the vaccine and so we are no longer adhering to the priority groups as we explained last week.”

CMO Laws added: “ So irrespective of the priority group that you find yourself , once you are ready, once you are empowered by the information and you would have made an informed decision, all you need to do is go to the nearest health centre to access the vaccine. You don’t even have to call 311. Just go to the nearest health centre to get your vaccine and get your first dose, and you will be given an appointment within 10 weeks for the second dose.”

She informed that for the vaccination plan, “between last week Monday  and last evening (Tuesday 2nd March) we would have had vaccinated a total of 1356  in the Federation have been vaccinated” whilst noting “ but today alone that’s 3rd March 729 persons and I’m happy to share that I’m include in that 729 persons.”

“So to date we would have vaccinated 2,085 persons in our Federation. In other words we would have reached a 6.3 percent of our target population just in a matter of nine days

Week #1 621 persons vaccinated,” Dr. Laws added.

According to her, the Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine provides an 83% risk reduction in contracting symptomatic COVID-19. 

“We are using the scheduled dosage of two  doses of this vaccine given 10 weeks apart  so the dosage schedule involves a 10-week interval between dose one and dose two.”

Dr. Laws stated that persons between 18 and 80 years are being targeted but that 80 is not a cut point.

Individuals over 80 are encouraged to go to their regular physician and to be evaluated such that their physician can give the nod of approval to proceed to take the vaccine. 

Dr. Laws highlighted that this vaccine is quite effective against the UK variant and it has a very good side effect profile. 

“In other words individuals who would have received this vaccine between last week and now, they would have only expressed minimum side effects. As a matter of fact, most have not complained of any side effects. The vaccine that we are offering was manufactured by the Serum Institute of India and for me it was very reassuring to note that the Institute…manufactures over 90 per cent of the vaccines that we have been using and continue to use in our Federation.  These are the vaccines that we have been giving our children over the past 20 years.”

The CMO cautioned individuals eligible to have vaccine appointments postponed.

“More and more persons are coming forward to give consent to receive this vaccine. However, if you are experiencing a cold, respiratory tract infection, having a fever we’re gonna ask you to postpone vaccination, if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, we’ll ask you to postpone also.”

History of severe allergic reactions to any of the chemical components of the vaccine has also been noted as a contraindication for taking the vaccine.

Health centres in the Federation have been identified as the primary vaccinations sites with 11 on St.Kitts and 6 in Nevis.

There has been 41 cases of COVID-19 collectively with 29 on St.Kitts and 12 on Nevis.

40 individuals have fully recovered and at present there is only one active case.