Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Heads of Government have noted the challenges in achieving desired levels of COVID-19 vaccination in the Region, agreeing to mount a regional campaign to combat the disinformation that encourages vaccine hesitancy.
A communique at the end of the March 1-2, 2022 Thirty-Third Inter-Sessional Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of community announced the decision.
According to the document, the leaders acknowledged a continued comprehensive response to COVID-19 in the Region.
And they agreed that Member States would continue to support the multi-sectoral and inter-sectoral regional public health response successfully led by the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) supported by the Regional Security System (RSS) and other Regional Institutions.
They also acknowledged that the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic had required that the Member States re-imagine their development strategies and global economic engagement towards building back better with more sustainable and resilient economies.
In that regard, they mandated the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) to coordinate the formulation of a regional resource mobilization strategy to raise the funding required to drive the economic recovery programme.
In addition, Heads of Government stressed the need to continue public health measures including masks, testing, isolation, and quarantine and supported CARPHA’s recommendations for safe and sustainable air and sea travel to protect the Region.
They also agreed to explore a regional strategy for manufacturing vaccines in the Region.
Late last month, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) disclosed that of the 13 countries and territories in the Americas that have not yet reached the World Health Organization’s 2021 goal of 40% vaccination coverage, ten are in the Caribbean.
PAHO’s Director, Dr. Carissa F. Etienne, said vaccine hesitancy, a lack of vaccination centers in remote areas, insufficient staff numbers, and limited cold-chain infrastructure remain considerable barriers to vaccination in many islands.
But Etienne said the tools are now available “to turn the tide on vaccinations in the Caribbean.”
“Dialogue, trust and outreach are the tools we must rely on to get more vaccines into arms and ultimately save lives,” the Director said.
And the Dominica-born Public Health Specialist appealed to Caribbean people to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
“ As a doctor from the Caribbean who has dedicated her life to public health, the best decision you can make for your health right now is to get a vaccine against COVID,” she urged.