While vaccination rates have slowly edged higher across most age groups in the past 30 days, there have been very few vaccinations of 18 to 30-year olds in six weeks.
About 69% of people in that age bracket have received at least one jab, compared to 68% on 29 June.
In contrast, the vaccination rate among 12 to 17-year olds has jumped from 37% to 61% since 11 July.
In all other age groups, government’s 80% full vaccination target has effectively been reached, following 3 to 4 percentage point increases over the past month.
But while current figures may give the impression that the target required to commence a phased border reopening will be reached soon, Cayman’s comparatively young population means that the 80% full vaccination goal for the entire population is still some way off.
Of the 99,065 COVID-19 vaccinations given in total, 50,607 people have had at least one jab and 48,458 have completed the two-dose course.
Based on an estimated population of 71,106, this equates to only 71% and 68% of the population, respectively.
According to the government’s revised estimates provided by the Economics and Statistics Office, obtained by the Cayman Compass through a Freedom of Information request, approximately 9,047 children, or 12.7% of the population, are under the age of 12 and cannot be vaccinated.
According to the population estimates, about 81.6% of the eligible population and 83% of adults over 18 have had at least one jab.
At the same time, that means an estimated 11,452 people are currently still unvaccinated. Based on government’s 80% target, another 6,278 people will have to come forward to reach the threshold for the entire population.
In the 30 days since 11 July, only 1,665 people have received their first jab.
Chief Medical Officer Dr. John Lee said, “We should be very proud of how far we have come as a country. It is not uncommon to see vaccine numbers lag at times as people go through various decision-making processes.
“However, the pandemic has taught us how truly connected we all are and as we start to re-open the borders more of us will need to be vaccinated to help protect the most vulnerable in our community.”
The population data shows that more needs to be done to encourage residents under 30 and teenagers to get vaccinated. In addition, the age brackets between 30 and 49 years represent the bulk of the population and contain almost as many unvaccinated people (4,700) as the 12 to 29-year age groups (4,850). Only among the over 50s is the number of unvaccinated smaller (1,730).
The population data does contain a small silver lining for healthcare provision in the islands.
Cayman has a comparatively large young and working age population, and a much smaller senior and retirement population than many other countries.
The median age in Cayman was just 35 years at the time of the 2010 census. This is lower than the 38.1 years in the US, 40.5 years in the UK, or 45.7 years in an ageing society like Germany’s, for example.
Cayman’s population of over-60s is small, at less than 13% compared with 24% in the UK or 28% in Germany.
This is an advantage as the demand for healthcare services typically increases with age.
That is particularly true for COVID-19.
Although in most countries, COVID infections are now more prevalent among younger people and cases of illness have increased among the young as a result, older people remain more susceptible to developing severe symptoms requiring hospitalisations.
And they are also much more likely to die from the virus, if they are unvaccinated.
Overall, this means the group of the most vulnerable in terms of age is smaller than in other countries and the threat of the coronavirus is, statistically at least, slightly lower.
That does, however, not mean that the risk is low or that hospitalisations and death from COVID-19 among unvaccinated young people are rare, as statistics from Public Health England for the first week in August show.