With the first batch of 11, 700 Pfizer’s vaccines arriving on the island as of yesterday (Sept 21), government officials are confident that this will augment Dominica’s vaccination drive and help the country achieve herd immunity.
Speaking during the arrival of the vaccine at the Douglas Charles Airport, Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit declared that such donation by US President Joe Biden and the American people is another major milestone in the continuing efforts to tackle the spread of COVID-19 among Dominica’s population, and the entire world.
“Our vaccination efforts began in earnest in February 2021. And so far, 44.6% of the adult population have been fully vaccinated. We have been able to reach these numbers due to the mobilization of vaccination centres across the island, as well as mobile units, which offer the opportunity for every citizen in every community to access vaccines,” he stated.
He said he was confident that with the receipt of these Pfizer vaccines, Dominica will be able to achieve its goal to inoculate at least 70% of its population and bolster efforts to protect the health of citizens and enable them to resume a normal life and engage in the conduct of business trade, travel, and socializing.
“The arrival of the Pfizer vaccine here provides us with another opportunity to rally our population to a cause of collective action in the fight against COVID-19,” Skerrit said. “ The numbers do not yet empower us to return to normal activity and movement which will spur our economy to renewed growth. The pandemic, we know, has had severe impacts on our fragile economy, and the livelihoods of many are at risk.”
This week, the ministry of health will roll out the Pfizer vaccine for all children in Dominica within the approved age range of 12- 17 and the Prime Minister used the occasion to seek the cooperation and support of all parents in getting their children vaccinated against the virus.
He said the Pfizer vaccines will also be available to adults who wish to be vaccinated while once again placing on record that vaccination will not be made mandatory in Dominica.
On behalf of the people of this country, the Dominican leader expressed gratitude to the Biden administration and commended them for what he labelled as “global leadership” on the matter of COVID-19 and the actions they have taken to curb the spread of this disease.
Deputy Chief of Mission of the United States Embassy for the Eastern Caribbean, David Schnier emphasized that this first tranche from the 46,800 Pfizer vaccines which was donated to Dominica are the same vaccines that all Americans are receiving.
This vaccine gift to Dominica is part of a $5.5 million donation by the United States people and government of Pfizer vaccines to the CARICOM community, and, according to the US Embassy official, it’s a symbol of the USA’s ongoing solidarity with the people of the Eastern Caribbean region as they recover from this devastating pandemic.
“President Biden has committed the United States to provide better vaccines around the world because he understands as the honourable minister has just said, that no one is safe until everyone is safe. I’ll say it again: no one is safe until everyone is safe. Pandemics know no borders and we are in this together as partners,” Schnier stressed.
According to the US diplomat, the donation of a little more 46,000 doses of Pfizer vaccines complements the vaccines that the United States has already made available to Dominica through the COVAX facility, including 20,800 AstraZeneca vaccines that were donated in April.
Schnier revealed that Pfizer, whose vaccines are the only ones that are Food and Drug Administration (FDA) certified, has already requested permission for authorization for children as low as five years old, similar to what was done for the 12 to 17 age group, which he said will help get children back to school.
Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr. Irving McIntyre, noted that the donations come at a time when global leaders must recognize that to fight this pandemic, all countries must work together.
“So we can only be safe if everyone is safe. And this is a level of multilateralism that we really appreciate where countries can come together and to fight a common enemy,” he continued. “And as we know, vaccines, together with public health and social measures, are what are the main defences against COVID-19.”
With the Pfizer donation, three types of vaccines are now available on island. The others are the Oxford/AstraZeneca and the Sinopharm vaccines.