Health Minister Honourable Marlon Penn is urging residents to consider vaccinations and boosters as the COVID-19 virus along with other respiratory illnesses continue to impact the territory.

Minister Penn made the appeal during Tuesday’s Sitting of the House of Assembly after disclosing that this year’s Influenza season is expected to be a very active one.  

He said, “the virus that causes COVID-19 continues to circulate in the territory, along with other respiratory viruses, such as Influenza, and RSV (Respiratory Syn-cy-tial Virus), which individually or collectively, could have serious health implications for vulnerable persons.”

“I want to emphasize that we should take steps to prevent the spread of viral infections. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) predicts a very active Influenza season, which will be complicated by a concurrent seasonal increase in both COVID-19 and other viral respiratory infections such as RSV, which also causes flu-like symptoms,” he added.

The minister said the situation has the potential to negatively impact the territory and the wider region more significantly considering the close ties to the United States and increase visitor arrivals.

He encouraged residents to continue taking their necessary supplements as well as to practice the proper hygiene methods to minimize exposure to the illnesses.

“It is therefore important for persons in our community, particularly those that are vulnerable, to take enhanced precautions to reduce their risk of infection, and the potential for any serious effects and complications of respiratory diseases. Along with proper nutrition and other healthy lifestyle choices, everyone should continue to make use of enhanced personal protection measures, such as hand washing, covering your cough, using face coverings where appropriate, and vaccination,” he expressed.

Meanwhile, Penn said vaccines for the respective illnesses are available, adding that the final shipment of COVID-19 vaccines from the United Kingdom was slated to arrive in the territory this week.

“I am pleased that both COVID-19 and Influenza vaccines remain available at the BVI Health Services Authority through its Primary Care Clinics. We expect to receive a final shipment of COVID-19 vaccines on Wednesday of this week, under the terms of a revised Memorandum of Understanding between the UK Health Security Agency and the Government of the Virgin Islands. This new shipment will include pediatric doses of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines for children ages 5 and older, as well as doses of Pfizer’s bivalent vaccine, which provides enhanced protection against the Omicron variant along with the original strain,” he explained.