Even as the UK rolled out its vaccination campaign on Tuesday using the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, there is no word yet on when Cayman will follow suit.
Although it is not clear when the vaccines will arrive, the Health Services Authority has purchased freezers, expected on-island soon, which will be used to store the doses once they are received.
Chief Medical Officer Dr. John Lee and Medical Officer of Health Dr. Samuel Williams-Rodriguez have both said they will be taking the vaccine whenever it arrives in Cayman.
Given the current availability of vaccine supplies, Cayman could be looking at an early January arrival.
At this stage, Government Information Services, in response to queries from the Cayman Compass, said, it is not known how many doses of the vaccine will be issued locally.
However, it said, “We will update as we know more.”
Williams-Rodriguez has said vaccination will not be mandatory but “strongly recommended” and will be provided free to the public.
According to a Cayman government FAQ page on the vaccination programme, the aim is to vaccinate at least 65% of the total population, which is approximately 44,200 people.
Meanwhile, the HSA has been circulating a survey to all health workers asking if they would be willing to take the vaccine, GIS confirmed, after a screenshot of the survey question on vaccination was circulated on social media.
GIS said the survey is consistent with protocols by the healthcare provider “as with all new programmes”.
No figures were readily available on the survey responses, GIS said, as “it is an on-going survey so we cannot verify results at this time”.
On Tuesday, Margaret Keenan, a 90-year-old grandmother in Britain, became the first person in the world to receive the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.
Last week, Britain became the first Western country to approve the shot.
On Monday, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that Canada’s first vaccinations against COVID-19 may happen as early as next week, pending Health Canada approval.
Canada will be receiving an initial batch of up to 249,000 doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine before the end of December, with the first shipment expected next week, CTV News has reported.
Britain has ordered 40 million doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech shot. Each person requires two doses so there is enough to vaccinate 20 million people in the country of 67 million.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson also indicated that 350 million doses have been ordered. He said the vaccines will be shared with British Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies.
Last week Premier Alden McLaughlin welcomed approval of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine. “Our re-opening plans are contingent on a successful vaccine programme locally and internationally, so this is welcome news indeed for the Cayman Islands and the World,” he told the Compass.
The Cayman Islands, he said, is in a good position to receive vaccinations as they become available.
“We are currently in discussion with Public Health England and the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office about the imminent delivery of our first round of the vaccines. We very much appreciate this ongoing support from the UK which has committed to supplying vaccines to all of the UKOTs at no cost in our fight against Covid-19 disease,” he added.
The Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is administered via an injection and in two doses for it to be fully effective. The two injections should be 21 days apart.