TCI News

TCI vaccine strategy is world-aligned to save lives

Dr. Nadia Astwood, TCI Chief Medical Officer

#TurksandCaicosIslands – December 23, 2020 — The goal is to save lives in the administering of the Covid 19 vaccines which the Turks and Caicos will on January 7 receive in a special delivery from the United Kingdom.  Dr. Nadia Astwood, TCI Chief Medical Officer joined the Governor and Minister of Health in a press conference Wednesday.  She said the vaccine strategy for the territory is already approved.

“The priority groups for the first phase of vaccinations will include the elderly, health care workers, those with underlying medical conditions who are at greatest risk for hospitalization if infected and those who ae living and working in congregated settings, such as long term care facilities.”

TCI’s vaccine strategy, informed the CMO, will broadly follow the recommendations of the World Health Organization, the Pan American Health Organization and Public Health England, which puts the wider public as last in line for the Pfizer vaccine.

UK has dispatched 9,750 does to the Turks and Caicos; each recipient will require two shots.  The firt a primer, the second a booster and they must be taken within 21 days of each other, else the dosage is wasted.

Pregnant women and healthy children under 16 years old are also not top priority, said Dr. Astwood as she aimed to tackle FAQs within her presentation.   A lack of evidence or research to outline the vaccine’s impact on pregnant women and the absence of data because clinical trials on younger children are yet to begin were cited as the key reasons these groups will not be among the first to be vaccinated.

The Covid-19 vaccine, like the flu vaccine will be a shot to the upper arm.  However, unlike the flu vaccine one must return for the second shot.

“You will not be fully protected until you have the second dose and he full efficacy of the vaccine will not be realised until seven days after the second vaccine. So this is at day 28 and so that means you will still need to take the usual precautions.

Dr. Astwood admitted to unknowns about CoVax; including whether it will be a onetime shot which gives protection for life or a seasonal shot similar to the flu vaccine.

Patients who have recovered from Covid-19 are encouraged to sign on for the shot.

“If you have had Covid previously,  you should get immunized, the immunity that results from previously having the infection, otherwise known as natural immunity, is thought to not last as long as the protection that would be offered by the vaccine.”

There is a five percent chance you could still get sick as the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine which the TCI is being gifted by the UK has a 95 percent efficacy rate.

“It’s also possible to get sick with the illness a few weeks after the you’ve first had the vaccination and then be exposed to the virus, so it takes time for the body to build the immune response after being vaccinated so therefore it is critical to have the second dose and wait the additional time after you’ve received the second dose.”

The vaccine is not compulsory in the Turks and Caicos Islands, reminded Dr. Astwood.

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