#TurksandCaicos, February 6, 2021 – Skillful negotiations, a willingness to safeguard its vulnerable territories and remarkable roll out of the first batch of the UK-gifted Covid-19 vaccine have brought the Turks and Caicos Islands even more good fortune; an additional 23,400 doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine courtesy of the United Kingdom.
“Again, that is without cost to TCI. That will allow us to vaccinate 40% of the population by May and that will start to make us one of the safest places to live, let alone one of the safest tourist destinations, in the world. Please keep registering on the portal,” said the Governor in a media statement issued on Friday.
“At 15%, we are now on course of being one of the world leaders in terms of the percentage of our population being vaccinated, particularly taking into account we have already started with second inoculations. We will receive double the previous amount of vaccines during week beginning 22 February; that is 23,400 doses.”
This week, Turks and Caicos achieved a tremendous milestone. All of the first doses of the vaccine were administered; exceeding expectations. The roll out included all islands and will exhaust the first 9,750 vaccines well ahead of the March 31 expiry date of the first batch.
“Looking back we were initially uncertain if we could use all the vaccine by the end of March when the ‘use by date’ expired; in fact we achieved this goal by the end of January. The partnership with the private sector has been instrumental in this, has worked extremely well, and the delivery at the hospitals has, we believe, been first class. TCI have also rolled out, for the first time, an Electronic Immunization records (EIR) System to the benefit of both public and private medical sectors; so new ways of working are coming on stream too.
The first phase of the vaccination programme has gone extremely well. The Team tasked to deliver this have beaten every target that was set in terms of engagement, the speed of delivery, our stewardship of the vaccine and our reach. So long as residents volunteered the Team prioritised: our senior citizens; those with underlying conditions and those on the front line. We have also been able to touch every Island and every age group. This has demonstrated we can use the Pfizer vaccine throughout the archipelago.”
The team was led by co-chairs, Her Excellency Anya Williams, Deputy Governor and Hon Sharlene Robinson, Premier with the public awareness marshalled by Dr. Virignia Clerveaux, Director of the Department of Disaster Management and Emergencies.
“The public information campaign seems to have helped and now there is momentum, amongst the population, with most of the major questions answered, and much nonsense on social media dispelled, we will continue to refine our engagement towards groups who are reluctant or particularly vulnerable. Many Pastors have been diligent in their engagement with us, informing themselves and through them informing others.”
Hindering skepticism in the territory, has waned; helped by the record levels of Covid-19 infections, three deaths so far in 2021 and a string of “myth-busting” meetings where country leaders and medical professionals addressed various groups.
“We respect everyone’s view, and their right to choose, but equally we don’t want anyone left behind because they either lacked the information they needed, or in some way feared access to a vaccine that we believe is their right to have.”
The territory has a unique demographic; the majority of adults are expatriate workers and as legal residents, many of the work permit holders were queued up in strong numbers for the free vaccine. The governor said things have changed dramatically.
“Towards the end of this first vaccination period it was extremely encouraging to see more and more Turks Islanders coming forward. As of today (Thursday 5th February) we have vaccinated 6,114 persons (with a first dose); by census that is close to 15% of our population which makes TCI a world leader.”
Any question about the Governor’s sincerity in seeing residents protected by the vaccine could have been shelved when he and his wife Mandy were first to get the jab; but a tragic event further dismisses the notion that the governor is not sincerely supportive of the vaccine as the way to security and safety.
Millions in countries like the United Kingdom are standing in an unfathomably long line for their shots; Mr. John Dakin, the governor’s father, was one of them. The elder Dakin died in January 2021 to the coronavirus while resident in a care home in the UK.
“Those who have yet to receive the vaccine, and wish to, can usefully register on the portal. If you do, we will get to you. If you know someone who needs help in accessing the Portal, please help them. Our aim is to vaccinate every resident in TCI, who wishes to be vaccinated, and our goal is to reach herd immunity as soon as we can. Our aspiration of being a world leader, and one of the safest destinations in the world once our population is vaccinated, is no longer just an aspiration but a reality – should you, TCI’s residents, wish it to be so. If you want to be part of this future register on www.covidvaccineregistration.gov.tc
This is over twice the amount we received last time and it will allow us to fully vaccinate more than 11,000 further residents. When we achieve that – which we will – we will have provided the vaccine (both doses) to 40% of our population. We hope to have done that by May.”
The vaccine should arrive the week of February 22. The vaccine will continue to be free and voluntary.