SABA (THE BOTTOM) – The first vaccination round on Saba was closed off on Monday, March 1 with a total tally of 1,328. This figure represents more than 85 percent of the adult population and over 70 percent of the total population.
In a fully COVID-19-free environment, the vast majority of about 1,500 adults on Saba went to the vaccination location at the Eugenius Johnson Center in the Windwardside from Monday, February 22 until Monday, March 1. On February 19, Saba received 1,500 Moderna vaccines, enough to vaccinate the entire adult population.
Saba currently has the highest coverage within the Kingdom and internationally it has done exceptionally good as well. “We are up there with the highest coverage in the world,” said a proud Dr. Koen Hulshof who heads the Saba Public Health Department. To compare, in Israel, which serves as a worldwide poster child for the high vaccination rate, 54 percent of the population has had at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Several factors contributed to Saba’s success rate, explained vaccination coordinator Tedisha Gordon of the Public Health Department. “The structure and the organization of the vaccination program contributed a lot,” said Gordon. “We have a strong, friendly and efficient vaccination team. The process went very smooth.”
Saba started early with providing information to its community about the safety of the vaccine and the vaccination process. More than 30 small and bigger gatherings were held with face-to-face encounters, including townhall meetings, visits to schools, churches, organizations and private companies.
The positive vibe also contributed to so many Sabans deciding to get the Moderna vaccine, with many people eager to get back some sense of normalcy. The social media was used extensively, while the free transportation to and from the vaccination location was also a positive factor.
On Tuesday afternoon, March 2, Saba’s Outbreak Management Team (OMT) informed the Island Council about the results of the first round of the vaccination program and to discuss what the high coverage means for the current measures after May 1 when the island should be partially reopened, depending on the developments of the pandemic.
In the next few weeks, Saba will receive the subsequent batch of the Moderna vaccine from the Netherlands for the second round. The second vaccination round will take place late March.
Looking back at seven days of vaccinating in the first round, Dr. Hulshof said: “The team is tired, but satisfied. It was a lot of work and it is great to see it materialized. It was a positive vibe from the start until the end.”