Premier Alden McLaughlin says if Cayman’s COVID-19 vaccination rate continues at its current pace, the islands’ borders could reopen by late April or early May.
Speaking at a press briefing Tuesday, the premier said once 70% of the population has received a second dose of the vaccine, people would be able to enter Cayman without quarantining.
He said that he believed the target of vaccinating 90% of the islands’ over-60 population was likely to be reached “within another few weeks”, as more than 81% of those have already received at least their first shot by the weekend. Once 90% of that demographic has received both doses, Cayman’s quarantine period for visitors would likely be reduced from 14 days to 10 days.
However, the premier said, “I’m even more excited at the prospect of us getting 70% of the overall population vaccinated, which would mean we can do away with quarantine periods altogether.
“Things are going well. I’m still hopeful that by perhaps the end of April or early May, Cayman will be one of the few countries in the world that can reopen safely without having to quarantine people.”
Health Minister Dwayne Seymour, also speaking at the press briefing – which was to announce the location of the planned Aster Cayman Medcity hospital in West Bay – said, as of Saturday, 24% of Cayman’s population had been vaccinated, and that 87% of people over the age of 70 had received at least one dose.
The premier stated that once the vaccination schedule is opened to all age ranges, “you’re going to see those numbers driving up pretty swiftly”.
Figures released shortly after the briefing indicated that, as of Monday this week, 7,758 people had completed their second dose of the vaccine.
McLaughlin said the Health Services Authority would soon launch a “fresh push campaign” to convince residents over the age of 60 to come forward for their vaccinations, as there were still “holdouts who have reasons why they don’t think they should take the vaccine”.
He said the HSA planned to use “Caymanian voices to help persuade those who still have reservations about it”.
McLaughlin added that the number of people in vulnerable groups who had already been inoculated had exceeded officials’ expectations since the vaccination rollout programme began last month.
The premier also acknowledged that some visitors over the age of 60 who were not ordinarily resident in Cayman but who had received vaccinations before stricter identity checks were introduced, were most likely being counted among the percentage of those confirmed as being inoculated. However, he said they were “not many, in the overall scheme of things”.
No vaccines are being kept aside specifically for the ‘holdouts’ who may decide to come forward later, as Cayman was “guaranteed a steady stream” of vaccines, he said. “I don’t think we’re keeping any back, we’re vaccinating as we go in the expectation that we’ll get fresh ones.”
The next shipment of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines is expected to arrive on a British Airways flight on 11 March.