The British Virgin Islands should aim to be one of the first countries in the Caribbean region to be fully vaccinated from the Covid 19 virus. Our small population and being an overseas territory of the United Kingdom gives us an advantage we should readily embrace. This ought to be an individual responsibility that ultimately becomes a collective commitment to protect each other. The benefit of at least a careful opening of our economy, provides opportunities that are now not available. The recent approval in the U.K. of the Oxford/Astra Zeneca vaccine is a step we should readily accept as the direction in which we should be moving.

There are many stories, theories postulates that have been perpetuated advanced and discussed in various forums about the safety of the vaccine(s).There is simply a myriad of information that exist with respect to the Covid vaccine. But as one article stated “Getting a vaccine appears to be orders of magnitude safer than getting infected with the virus. ”And if I might add a world safer than getting sick, hospitalized and being placed on a ventilator. I am also very sure that none of us want to die as a result of complications of being infected. The BVI has a long history of administration of immunization programs with our experience in the Expanded Programmer of Immunization (EPI),we should be well placed to administer this vaccine to the entire population in a relatively short order of time once we have received it.

The science surrounding the vaccine has shown it to be safe. This safety is underpinned by an international collaborative effort that has allowed the development to be directed by top tier scientists and medical experts globally. For those who might question the speed with which the vaccine was developed, the answer is simple. Research in large measure depends on the availability of resources, especially financial resources. In the case of the Covid vaccine there has been no shortage of money. This point needs expanding to better appreciate where we are in the global context. Most researchers usually are working from ground zero on their ideas and they depend on grants to be able to advance their work. The cost of financing a research laboratory invariably will depend on corporations or foundations believing in the researchers ideas and appropriating monies to the project usually against a background that results could take years to materialize. The global nature of this pandemic has meant a mobilization of vast sums of monies, (especially from the US government) that has resulted in the opportunity and ability to advance the research. Safety is intimately tied to the research at all levels providing the checks and balances to protect us all.

Those who are skeptical about the vaccine should be also willing to accept some basic facts.
1)Infection with the virus can be fatal.
2)There are both short and long term effects of being infected.
3)Even for those persons who are asymptomatic there appears to be long term sequelae.
4)Infection means we put our friends and loved ones at risk and this risk could be fatal.
5)The persons who may have an allergic reaction to the vaccine are very unlikely to die as a result. There is a greater chance of a a fatal outcome from the Infection.

The clinical effects of Infection on the individual level varies. Some of the more troubling manifestations are,
-loss of smell and taste, and this seems to be a fairly long term problem
-respiratory complications, both in the short and long term, affecting the individual’s breathing in major ways.
-there are major effects on the nervous system; anxiety and depression seems to follow.
-health care workers are not only at risk themselves but it has now been shown that they themselves are developing post traumatic stress after treating infected persons.

The BVI should set an example of being a country that cares and are “our neighbors keepers”, the life we save may be our own. In medicine all drugs have side effects but use of medications means the benefits inherent in its usage far outweigh the risks. Total vaccinations of the population has much greater benefits
1)We would be able to reopen our borders and hence our economy with minimal risks.
2)Our schools would be functional with the great benefits that brings to all of us, students, teachers and parents. The long term risks of keeping children out of the physical classrooms are mind boggling.
3)Whether we like it or not, it is an impending reality, on an individual level we won’t be able to travel anywhere without being vaccinated.
As harsh as it may sound, it will also become a reality that work places will demand that proof of vaccination be given before being accepted on the job. It can very well be argued that it is the individual’s right to not take the vaccine. Just like smoking is not permitted in the workplace to protect fellow employees, will become mandatory to be vaccinated to protect others. We should all try and recognize that there is a greater good that benefits us all.