More than 1,100 get jabs on Saturday vaccination drive

People wait on seats at the airport clinic after being vaccinated on Saturday, 8 May. - Photo: Alvaro Serey

The government’s ramped-up COVID-19 vaccination drive, which included offering prizes to people to show up to get their shots, attracted 1,138 people on Saturday.

Medical staff at the airport vaccination centre administered the first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to 734 people, while 404 individuals received their second doses, according to the latest statistics issued by the Ministry of Health and Wellness.

In recent weeks, the number of people getting vaccinated daily had been dropping, though there was a rebound last week.

In a bid to convince people who had been reluctant to take the vaccine or had been putting it off until the last minute, the government last week announced the ‘Vaccination Challenge’, in which those who get inoculated between 8 May and 9 June can enter a draw in which they can win a variety of prizes.

As of Saturday, a total of 71,807 doses of the vaccine had been administered in Cayman.

Cayman’s supply of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines are set to expire at the end of next month. With three weeks recommended between the first and second doses of the vaccine, to ensure the second dose is administered before the expiration date, a person would have to take the first dose by 9 June, Dr. John Lee, the chief medical officer, has explained.

FDA approves vaccines for 12-15 year olds

Premier Wayne Panton has said it would be difficult to reach a target of vaccinating 80% of Cayman’s entire population, but that inoculating 70% was “achievable”, especially if emergency permission were given to allow children ages 12-15 to get the vaccine. As of Saturday, 51% of Cayman’s entire population had been vaccinated.

The US Food and Drug Administration approved use of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine among that age group earlier today. Prior to this, the vaccine could only be administered to those aged 16 or over in the US.

Chief Medical Officer Dr. John Lee says it is important that the 12-15-year-old population get vaccinated. – Photo: Alvaro Serey

Because Cayman’s vaccines are supplied by the UK, the government will need to get permission from the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office before it can be given to 12-15 year olds here.

Chief Medical Officer Lee on Saturday told the Cayman Compass that it was important for the 12-15 age group to be vaccinated “so that they can return to school, go travelling with the school camps, and so on, with a bit more confidence, and it also helps boost the whole herd immunity we’ve been talking about, for population protection if we can get that group vaccinated.”

In a press release issued today, Acting FDA Commissioner Janet Woodcock said, “The FDA’s expansion of the emergency use authorization for the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine to include adolescents 12 through 15 years of age is a significant step in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. Today’s action allows for a younger population to be protected from COVID-19, bringing us closer to returning to a sense of normalcy and to ending the pandemic.

“Parents and guardians can rest assured that the agency undertook a rigorous and thorough review of all available data, as we have with all of our COVID-19 vaccine emergency use authorizations.”

See the latest vaccination schedule here.

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