COVID-19 vaccinations have been made mandatory for work-permit holders in the Turks and Caicos Islands.
“Persons who, by choice, elect not to receive a COVID-19 vaccine will not have annual work permits renewed and will be required to leave the islands,” read an announcement from the territory’s governor Nigel Dakin, reported on the Visit TCI tourism website.
As of 18 April, 15,674 people – around 35% of the population – had received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Like Cayman and other British Overseas Territories, the Turks and Caicos Islands have received support from the UK for its vaccination programme.
Along with Bermuda and the Cayman Islands, the Caribbean island group was in the first wave to receive the early batches of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine from the UK.
Turks and Caicos has been open to tourists since July, without quarantine measures. Pre-arrival testing is required. The islands have had 2,376 cases and 17 deaths since the beginning of the outbreak.
It is the first British territory to introduce any kind of measure to compel people to take the vaccine.
Cayman Islands authorities have previously indicated that getting immunised against the virus will be voluntary, though they have encouraged everyone who is eligible to get the jab.
Bermuda stats show vaccine works
Meanwhile, in Bermuda, statistics from the third wave of the virus provide compelling evidence of the effectiveness of the vaccine.
The territory, which also reopened to tourists under certain conditions last summer, was midway through its vaccination programme when an outbreak of the new fast-spreading UK variant struck in late March. There have been more than 1,000 cases and 11 deaths in Bermuda so far in April.
The island has gone back into lockdown and Premier David Burt just announced a new mandatory 14-day quarantine period for unvaccinated travellers.
Statistics from Bermuda’s Ministry of Health clearly indicate that the vaccine has worked.
More than 90% of the total hospitalisations and deaths involve people who have not received a single dose of the vaccine.
Fewer than 20% of those who have had a single dose of the vaccine have contracted the virus and an even smaller number have been hospitalised.
The island has had one death involving an individual who had both doses of the vaccine.
However, the percentage of deaths and hospitalisations for those who have had both doses and have allowed two weeks for it to take effect is zero.
All non-vaccinated travellers visiting Bermuda will have to quarantine for 14 days from June 6, Burt said in a national address late Sunday,
“We must eliminate local transmission of this virus,” he added.
“If we do not end local transmission, we will not be able to get rid of our masks, or see the end of curfew.”
He announced that the island had passed the halfway mark for the population having at least one dose of the vaccine and added, “We must keep going in order to reach our goal of community protection which is considered to be achieved when 70 per cent of the population has received both doses of the vaccine.”