Cayman is likely to exhaust its first tranche of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines this week, and it remains unclear when the next batch will arrive.
Earlier this month, the United Kingdom sent 9,750 doses of the two-dose vaccine to Cayman, sufficient to inoculate 4,875 people. The national vaccination programme was rolled out Thursday, 7 Jan., starting with government officials getting their shots publicly to encourage uptake.
As Cayman approaches the limit of the first shots, Governor Martyn Roper has called for patience, saying Cayman is awaiting confirmation from the UK on the next batch, “hopefully before the end of the month”.
Roper, in a post on his Facebook page Wednesday afternoon, said the vaccine supply is limited all over the world.
“We are fortunate to be receiving supplies. Production is stepping up and the UK’s commitment to supplying the (Overseas Territories) remains firm. But limited supplies means we will get a proportionate amount of what the UK has available relative to our population. So we will have to remain patient,” he said.
Health officials have said they do not intend to extend beyond the recommended 21-day window between the first and second inoculations, which means those in the queue for their jabs will have to wait for the next shipment of the vaccine.
According to statistics released by Government Information Services, by Tuesday night 3,119 people had received their first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, which Roper said was a “great start” to the roll-out.
This week, Pfizer-BioNTech said it was ramping up production and expected to produce 2 billion doses of the vaccine this year.
Globally, more than 15 million people have now received a vaccine, including 2.3 million in the UK, Roper pointed out.
In Cayman, the roll-out continues with no reports of serious allergic reactions or incidents.
“The vaccines are safe, rigorously tested and are now being rolled out to millions across the world,” Roper said. “This is our way out of the pandemic. It is the only way to protect yourself and particularly the elderly and vulnerable in the community. Please, get yours when invited to do so.”
Two different vaccines are available in the UK, the Pfizer-BioNTech jab and the Oxford-AstraZeneca shot.
It is unclear if Cayman will receive the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, which is cheaper and easier to transport than the one from Pfizer-BioNTech.
US company Moderna has also produced a vaccine and, although it has been approved in the UK, it is not available there.