As Saint Lucia grapples with a fifth COVID-19 wave that health officials say started on December 16, the Island has recorded several infections among vaccinated individuals.
“During this current wave, a number of positive COVID-19 cases have been noted in the vaccinated population – what is termed ‘vaccine breakthrough cases’,” National Immunisation Manager Tecla Jn Baptiste disclosed in a statement on Tuesday.
“These are instances in which an individual tests positive for COVID-19 after being fully vaccinated more than 14 days after completing their primary series.” Jn Baptiste explained.
She said the cases generally present very mild illness or are asymptomatic.
Health officials have disclosed that since the fifth COVID-19 wave began here, the country has averaged 136 cases daily.
Jn Baptiste said given the transmission rate, the circulation of the Omicron variant is highly suspicious.
The National Immunisation Manager observed that although the cases are less severe and generally mild, the Omicron variant can result in life-threatening illnesses for the unvaccinated.
She noted that unvaccinated people are at higher risk of becoming severely ill or dying, while those who take the vaccine generally experience mild illness if they become infected
According to Jn Baptiste, the elderly and people living with chronic conditions are at significantly higher risk compared to other groups, given that the risk of severe illness increases with age.
In addition, she revealed that an individual’s outcome depends on general health and the immune system’s ability to fight infections.
“With this in mind, persons who are partially vaccinated or have not been vaccinated are encouraged to do so. For those who have been vaccinated more than six months – get boosted,” Jn Baptiste urged.
She stated that the risk of becoming infected or having a re-infection and becoming severely ill significantly increases if not fully vaccinated.
And while asserting that vaccination remains the best protection against COVID-19 and its variants, the senior Health Ministry official reminded her audience that they must observe other measures for added security, including wearing a face mask and sanitising.