PHILIPSBURG–The Vaccine Management Team (VMT) has changed the interval between the two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine from three to five weeks. This new policy will start on Monday, April 19.
“With this adjustment, many more people will receive their first vaccination and [we will – Ed.] thus provide better protection to more people and those around them from COVID-19 infection,” the VMT stated in a press release on Thursday.
Curaçao, Aruba and Bonaire are experiencing very high rates of COVID-19 infection. Within only a few weeks, the number of cases on Curaçao dramatically increased from just a handful to more than 5,000, as the result of the more contagious United Kingdom (UK) variant.
“Curaçao’s hospital is overwhelmed and unable to help regular non-COVID-19 patients; the country is confronted with one of the world’s highest infection rates,” said the VMT.
The VMT warned that a similar scenario can take place on St. Maarten within the near future. Already 24 cases with the British COVID-19 variant have recently been detected on St. Maarten. “Vaccination coverage of the country is still too low to protect against a possible third wave. To create herd immunity, we will need to vaccinate 34,000 persons,” said the VMT. “However, we’ve roughly vaccinated 10,000 persons with only the first dose. Almost half of that group have also received their second dose by now.”
The Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labor VSA Collective Prevention Services (CPS) and Belair vaccination locations have a collective capacity of nearly 1,000 vaccinations per day, 500 persons for their first dose and 500 for their second dose.
By delaying the second dose by two weeks, roughly 5,000 extra vaccines can go to persons who have not gotten any vaccine. Otherwise, these vaccines would have gone to persons who already had one dose.
The Pfizer vaccine provides 60 to 70 per cent protection to people who have received their first vaccination, said the VMT. Extending the period between first and second vaccinations to five weeks does not reduce the second vaccination’s effectiveness of 95 per cent.
With this adjustment, the VMT aims to have a larger portion of the population at least partially protected against a possible third wave due to the more contagious UK variant.
“It is essential to know that this updated policy only applies to new first appointments. So, suppose you already have your second appointment according to the original three-week interval. In that case, this appointment will remain on the same date. If you come for your first appointment after the upcoming weekend, your second appointment will be five weeks after your first appointment,” the VMT explained.
The VMT said it is happy to see the recent trend of increasing numbers of persons signing up for vaccination over the last few days, where the daily registration numbers doubled. “If you haven’t done so already, you are strongly advised to register yourself for your own protection and the protection of your family, community and country,” said the release.
Finally, the VMT added that getting sufficient vaccination numbers will also encourage tourists to return to the island, revive our economy and provide business and income for all.
Pfizer is currently the best vaccine in the world, the Rolls Royce among all vaccines, said the VMT. “Since it cannot be guaranteed that future shipments of vaccines received from the Netherlands are the same, we must grab this great opportunity with both hands. We have no time to lose,” the VMT concluded.
Source: The Daily Herald https://www.thedailyherald.sx/islands/vmt-extends-the-period-between-vaccinations-from-3-to-5-weeks