Chief Medical Officer Dr. John Lee is urging people who have not yet received their COVID-19 shots to ensure they get their first dose by 9 June as the vaccines on island will expire at the end of that month.
Lee issued a fresh plea Tuesday evening for people to come forward and be vaccinated.
“COVID-19 is raging around the globe but the Cayman Islands has the precious resource of vaccinations – let’s not waste this gift in the face of the world’s gaze; people are desperate for vaccinations in countries where patients can’t get enough oxygen and respiratory support,” he said.
According to the latest vaccination statistics, 55% of Cayman’s total population – or 67% of those over 16 – have received at least one dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
“Through the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office of the United Kingdom, we have been provided around 90,000 vaccinations which is enough to give 45,000 people a course of two injections,” Lee said. “Our last scheduled delivery was on 7th April, and the last batches expire at the end of June 2021.”
He said those who want to ensure they can get both doses, will need to receive their first dose by 9 June. “Please come forward to protect yourself, protect the community and do the right thing,” he added.
He pointed out that demand for the vaccinations has “declined considerably” since its peak in March. Cayman received its first batches of the vaccine in January.
So far, 65,497 doses of the vaccine have been distributed. As of Monday this week, 30,068 people had completed the two-dose course.
Part of the check-in area at Owen Roberts International Airport is being used as a free vaccination clinic. Lee said that site would remain in operation for a few more weeks while the Public Health Department carries out its final drive to inoculate people.
He said Cayman has good vaccination rates for people over 50 years of age, but for those between 16 and 50, the rate is 44%.
“The country is looking forward to the borders opening, and to make the population safe, we need to have widespread coverage of all those eligible,” he said.
“Vaccination is very safe,” he added. “Although many people have side effects for a day or two, and often only after the second dose, the risks of getting seriously ill or dying from COVID-19 by far outweigh the minor side effects that some people suffer. In Brazil during April 2021, more than 50% of intensive care beds were occupied by patients aged less than 40, and we know that Variants of Concern are affecting the young more.”
In his statement, Lee highlighted the benefits of vaccination, including:
- our most vulnerable will be protected from the infection as the virus cannot get a good hold;
- individuals won’t pass the virus to those most vulnerable;
- if you get infected, the vaccine offers high protection against moderate to severe disease, hospitalisation and death;
- the chances of getting ‘long COVID’ after even a mild infection (with symptoms persisting for months or years) will be hugely reduced;
- studies from Israel have shown that protection from high vaccination will even benefit children;
- travel abroad will be safer;
- allowing travellers into the Cayman Islands will be safer;
- large-scale outdoor gatherings will become a far safer prospect;
- and, as the world improves, the duration of quarantine will reduce further and hopefully will no longer be required.