Residents who can show proof of vaccination may soon be able to benefit from reduced quarantine and attendance at events with larger numbers, says Governor Andrew Pearce.
The governor on Wednesday met with local media, along with Premier Joseph Farrell, to discuss the urgent need for residents to be vaccinated. About 900 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine received on island in February will expire May 31, 2021.
Pearce and Farrell agree it would be a tragedy if the vaccines are dumped as due to restrictions they are unable to share them with other islands who desperately need the drug. The governor explained that due to agreements signed between the pharmaceutical company, the UK Government and the local government, the batch of the vaccine here would need to remain on island. Added to that, the practical reasons of refrigeration and showing proof that they have been kept and transported at the required temperature may pose a challenge.
Premier Farrell said Cabinet is currently discussing what incentives to put in place to encourage greater uptake of the vaccine on island. As of April 30, 2021, a total of 1299 people have taken the first dose of the vaccine and 771 have received the second dose. Farrell said the tourism sector has presented a roadmap of recommendations for reopening of the sector. These are being considered. However, the premier said that reopening the island hinged on vaccinated numbers increasing dramatically over the coming few months.
Currently the second batch of the vaccine will expire at the end of July, 2021.
Governor Pearce said, after the cameras stopped rolling, that two of the policy changes being considered by Cabinet are shorter quarantine times for vaccinated residents and the opportunity, with proof of vaccination, for people to host and attend events with higher numbers.
Premier Farrell admitted that his government has not done enough to counter the anti-vaccination crowd and they will be shortly rolling out new information products to improve this. He also said that one member of his team has not taken the vaccine but declined to give a name.
Meanwhile, Victor’s Supermarket will be supporting the Government’s Public dissemination campaign on health messages through their various media platforms.
While the COVID-19 vaccine has not been proven to reduce the chances of catching the virus it does reduce incidences of hospitalisation and mortality.
Residents can visit their local health centre or register to be vaccinated at https://www.gov.ms/vaccination