A senior Saint Lucia Health official here has asserted that the Oxford AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine has many advantages for the local immunisation programme.
Assistant Principal Nursing Officer – Tecla Jn Baptiste made the disclosure in a statement Thursday.
“One of the greatest advantages of the AstraZeneca vaccine is it does not require ultra -cold storage,” the health official noted.
Jn Baptiste noted that health officials can keep it in the current vaccine storage facility.
She also observed that in addition, Saint Lucia can roll out of the vaccination programme in a similar manner to how vaccines are presently administered to the population.
“That is, the vaccine can be given within health care institutions as well as within non-health sites and communities,” Jn Baptiste said.
Saint Lucia expects to receive 74, 400 doses of the vaccine by the end of February through the COVAX Facility.
The Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) has confirmed the allocation.
According to Jn Baptiste, the COVAX Facility will allow the vaccine to be distributed in a manner that is fair across all countries, irrespective of size or developmental status.
Officials here estimate that Saint Lucia’s initial allocation will see the vaccination of 20% of our population.
“This will start the process of building immunity against the COVID-19 virus and by extension strengthen public health efforts to manage COVID -19,” said Jn Baptiste.
She disclosed that the Saint Lucia Cabinet of Ministers has agreed for the vaccine to be available at no cost to citizens and on a voluntary basis.
Saint Lucia will roll out its national COVID -19 vaccine programme through a phased approach.
The first phase will focus on people at greatest risk of COVID -19.
The Assistant Principal Nursing Officer explained that this will assist in protecting those with greatest vulnerability and likely to have more adverse outcomes if infected by the virus.
Jn Baptiste said officials of the Ministry of Health will be providing further updates and guidance to the public as Saint Lucia prepares for the introduction of the COVID-19 vaccine.