Uncertainty surrounding the procurement of additional COVID-19 vaccines for the British Virgin Islands has resulted in the Ministry of Health shortening the stipulated interval for the second dosage, from 10 to 12 weeks, to 4 to 8 weeks.
This is according to the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Dr. Irad Potter who made the disclosure through a media release from the Health Ministry on Tuesday.
According to the ministry, the shortened period is to allow for as many persons as possible to become fully vaccinated before the current stock of AstraZeneca vaccines expire on July 31.
Dr. Potter noted that while the longer period of between 10 to 12 weeks creates a greater potency against the virus, the new 4-to-8-week period will be sufficient for persons to qualify for the full vaccination status.
New COVID strains affecting procurement process
The ministry further revealed that there are uncertainties surrounding the procurement of future COVID-19 vaccines for the Territory, due to the new strains of the virus which continues to significantly impact a number of countries across the globe.
“Arrangements for the shipment of additional doses have not been confirmed due to various constraints affecting the global supply of AstraZeneca vaccines. Cold chain and logistics requirements that limit the Territory’s access to other approved COVID-19 vaccines add to the uncertainty of future supply,” the release stated.
However, CMO Dr. Potter remains optimistic on the BVI’s ability to secure future vaccines, stating that negotiations are presently being had.
He said, “Discussions are however, ongoing with Public Health England and the COVAX Facility regarding vaccine supply to the Territory, and further information will be provided to the public once agreements have been finalised.”
Person being encouraged to take vaccine
In the meantime, Dr. Potter is encouraging residents to take advantage of the opportunity to become vaccinated.
The Ministry of Health is therefore urging persons who have not yet received their first dose of the vaccine to do so between now and July 2.
Residents will have the option to choose from respective vaccination facilities based on their location.
The vaccination centers on Tortola will operate Mondays to Fridays from 10:00am to 3:00pm and include: the Seventh Day Adventist Church Hall, Fat Hogs Bay; Catholic Church Community Centre, Main Street; R&R Malone Complex and Pockwood Pond. The Rite Way Supermarket will be the lone facility to conduct vaccination on Saturdays.
On the sister island of Virgin Gorda, the Nurse Iris O’Neal Medical Centre will be vaccinating from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m, while the North Sound Clinic will be operating by an appointment only system.
Meanwhile, residents of Anegada and Jost Van Dyke are asked to schedule appointments via telephone, at 852-7784 and 852-7796 respectively.
In addition to public vaccination centers, the Ministry of Health has also listed a number of private vaccination facilities.
These include Bougainvillea and Eureka Clinic, Penn Medical Centre, BVI Medical Centre and B&F Medical Centre.