CARICOM Leaders Express Dismay At Region’s COVID-19 Vaccination Rate

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Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Heads of Government meeting virtually on Monday for their 16th Special Emergency gathering to consider a regional response to the recent surge in infections, hospitalisations and deaths due to the COVID-19 virus across the Community, have expressed dismay at the region’s vaccination rate.

According to a Communique issued at the end of the meeting, the leaders are also concerned about the ‘significant incidence’ of vaccine hesitancy

As of 3 September, according to the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), vaccine coverage in the Community ranged from 58.7 percent in Bermuda to 0.1 percent in Haiti.

The end of conference Communique said Heads of Government noted that no country was close to herd immunity and the increased incidence of mutations and variants made it imperative for there to be a greater improvement in the rates of vaccination.

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“Heads of Government are strongly urging the people of the Community to get vaccinated, as failure to do so puts the health sector at great risk of being overwhelmed by the surge of COVID-19 cases. They called particularly, on the front-line workers, including nurses, doctors, security personnel and teachers to take the vaccines available given their critical roles in the society,” the document stated.

It said that Heads of Government warned that the threat to the health, economic, education and security sectors was real, and called on all stakeholders to come together on this issue in the interest of the stability of the Member States and the Community.

The Communique noted that in this context, Heads of Government will consider the harmonisation of travel protocols, including for cruise ships.

They also agreed to the design of a Community Public Relations Strategy to
supplement national campaigns to encourage citizens to vaccinate.

In addition, the leaders agreed to share excess vaccines, personal protective equipment and test kits and to approach the COVAX Facility to grant the Community an exemption,
which would allow vaccine doses from the Facility to be reallocated among Member States.

The Communique said the Heads of Government also agreed to continue to advocate for vaccine equity and access, as well as financing and debt sustainability at the United Nations General Assembly and the United States Global COVID- 19 Summit, both to be held later this month.

The Heads of Government expressed deep concern at the impact of COVID-19 on the region with more than 100,000 new cases and 1400 deaths between July 2021 and 12 September 2021.

They received an update on the pandemic from the Executive Director of the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), Dr. Joy St. John, which noted that since the outbreak in March 2020, the Region has seen more than 300,000 confirmed cases with more than 6,700 deaths.

Dr. St John stressed that the percentage of deaths was exceedingly high among unvaccinated people, with less than one percent of deaths recorded by persons who were vaccinated, according to the end of conference Communique.

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Editorial Staff
Editorial Staff
Our Editorial Staff at St. Lucia Times is a team publishing news and other articles to over 200,000 regular monthly readers in Saint Lucia and in over 150 other countries worldwide.

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