As countries around the world are grappling to get hold of COVID-19 vaccines, Cayman is in an enviable position. Locally, the vaccine rollout is progressing fast, but even that may not be enough to quickly reach the targets currently set for reopening the jurisdiction’s borders.
In comparison to other countries, Cayman’s vaccination efforts are undoubtedly going very well.
Worldwide, more than 475.5 million COVID vaccine doses have been administered, equivalent to about 6.2 doses for every 100 people.
In Cayman, 42,115 Pfizer/BioNTech shots given to residents represent 64.8 doses for every 100 people.
This easily puts Cayman into the top five globally. Only Israel, the Seychelles and the United Arab Emirates have higher vaccination rates, according to a tally by the New York Times.
The UK, which prides itself on a fast vaccine rollout, has administered 46 doses for every 100 people. About 43% of the British population have received at least one shot. This is the exact same share of the population as in Cayman. However, locally 22% are fully vaccinated compared to only 3.6% in the UK.
Despite this relatively fast progress, numbers will have to increase steadily before Cayman’s borders can reopen. Government has mentioned various, sometimes contradictory, thresholds as a requirement.
For some time, both Chief Medical Officer Dr. John Lee and the government have stated 80% of the population should be fully vaccinated before visitors can return to the islands.
Using the government’s own population estimates, this is mathematically impossible, as long as children remain ineligible to receive the vaccine.
Government estimates that Cayman currently has 65,000 residents and 51,893 are believed to be over the age of 16 – the cut-off point to receive the COVID vaccine. However, 80% of this population estimate is 52,000, more than the entire adult population.
Recently, the required threshold has moved somewhat. In February, Premier Alden McLaughlin mentioned a lower 70% of the population, about 45,500 people, as the level required to do away with quarantining periods altogether.
At a Progressives Party rally on Tuesday, Roy McTaggart indicated it would be sufficient if 75% to 80% of the adult population are fully vaccinated.
This goal is more achievable as it equates to between 38,900 and 41,500 adult residents.
On 23 March, just under 28,000 people – or roughly two-thirds of the target – had received at least one dose of the vaccine.
Based on Cayman Compass projections, from the average number of doses administered each day so far, it would take until late May or early June for 80% of the adult population to be fully vaccinated.
After targeting older age groups first, the vaccination schedule was opened to the entire population earlier this month. A second round of vaccination dates began in alphabetical order on 22 March and ends on 1 April.
It is, therefore, also possible that numbers are going to plateau, once all those who want to be vaccinated have received two jabs.
This would mean that it will take longer or even that a renewed public relations drive, with a particular focus on younger people, is needed to reach the threshold at all.