Health Minister Hon. Carvin Malone has admitted that the Government of the Virgin Islands is eying the introduction of COVID-19 vaccine passports as a means of relaxing the protocols for the ongoing health pandemic.
The Minister’s remarks were made following the arrival of the 12,000 units of the Oxford’s AstraZeneca vaccine shipment from the United Kingdom last night, March 17.
“There are some countries around the world that are already requiring the vaccine passport, and that will then help to relax the quarantine in those areas, so we are looking at this, it is a moving target, as far as we are concerned and we are going to follow the World Health Organization (WHO), Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), all of our agencies,” he said at the T. B. Lettsome International Airport.
He said further, “So it is critical that we continue to follow the science, follow the institutions who are best geared to give us the information required.”
The Minister informed that a recent meeting was held with the Health Emergency Operations Centre and they advised that residents get their two doses of the vaccine and is also pushing for between 85 to 90 per cent of the population to be inoculated.
He indicated that once that is done, the Territory can get to the herd immunity.
“We will then be able to look into the masks, the distancing and so forth, but we are not out of the woods. It was President (Joe) Biden who said that by July 4, we hope that you can have barbeque with grandma, make sure that grandma is safe because you are safe. If we become immunized, then we can look in terms of opening up the economy, opening up whatever we have to do,” the Minister stated.
Recently, the Government signaled its intent to at least review and possibly relax the current Covid-19 measures provided that there is widespread vaccination of residents.
Minister of Health and Social Development, Hon. Carvin Malone told the House of Assembly on March 10 that it is exceedingly crucial for as many persons as possible to be vaccinated as quickly as possible so that the Territory can move and reap the benefits of vaccination.
“We are aware of the concept of herd immunity where if we have sufficient persons vaccinated, we will interrupt the ability of COVID to be transmitted through our population,” the Minister stated.
The Minister added, “Widespread vaccination within the Territory will also allow us to seriously review our current protocols and look at less onerous entry measures. This even more that we begin to look to advance the process of the re-opening of our ocean borders on 15th April. The U.S. CDC [Center for Disease Control] has already recommended that persons who are vaccinated do not need to quarantine after potential exposure to the Coronavirus, and also that vaccinated persons can gather in small settings without masks and other measures.”
To date, 6,511 vaccinations have been carried out in the Territory.