The vaccination programme for COVID-19 is set to begin today at the Newtown Health Centre where the first doses will be given to people here in St. Kitts and Nevis.

Minister of Health Akilah Byron-Nisbett in an address on Sunday noted that the vaccine rolls out with a launch this afternoon.

“To initiate our vaccination rollout and awareness of the campaign, the general public should kindly note that at 1 pm, on Monday 22 February, the ministry of health will launch the national roll-out of its AstraZeneca Oxford Vaccine at the Newtown Health Centre, Ponds Pasture St. Kitts.”

Last week Prime Minister Dr Timothy Harris said his cabinet colleagues would lead on the matter and will be the first to take the vaccine.

Byron Nisbett said the Federation continues to be proactive in its efforts to manage COVID-19 as the pandemic reeks devastating returns on communities globally.

She said the vaccines are ready to be rolled out.

“The fact that they are safe and efficacious vaccines is indeed indicative of one of the greatest public health achievements in human history. The vaccine plan will be rolled out under the auspices of the National Immunization Committee of the Ministry of Health who relied on the well-established vaccine programme with its best practice measures with relevant input from regional and international partners such as PAHO and WHO and the strategic advisory group of experts on immunization.”

The health minister said the plan will be executed utilizing a three-phased approach with the main goals being to mitigate against death and serious disease, promote maximum functioning of society and reduce the burden of COVID-19 on vulnerable persons

“The overall aim of our country’s plan is to ultimately access adequate amounts of COVID-19 vaccines to consequently vaccinate 70% of our population to achieve appropriate herd immunity threshold.”

Addressing the vaccine plan, Byron Nisbett said it would be administered to people 18 to 80 years of age while people over 80 will be required to be evaluated by their physicians before receiving the vaccine

“Administration will be based on an appointment system and those interested in being vaccinated may call the health hotline 311 or visit the nearest health centre to make an appointment. Once the first dose of the vaccine is given persons will be issued with a COVID-19 vaccination card and an appointment to return in 10 weeks for the second dose.”

She said phase one will be rolled out in Basseterre, Sandy Point and Tabernacle health centres in St. Kitts. In Nevis Charlestown, Gingerland and Combermere health centres.

Byron Nisbett said during the subsequent phases all 11 health centres in St. Kitts and six in Nevis will be utilized.

She said during the launch persons representing a cross-section of stage one including members of parliament will be inoculated with the vaccine.

“I urge you to come forward to demonstrate your love of self and country and facilitate the sense and state of normalcy by being vaccinated.”

She urged the public to take the vaccine noting it was the safest method to combat the virus.

“I submit this is the best and safest way to combat the virus and mitigate against the dire consequences of impact and transmission. Our individual and collective action will certainly alleviate the pressure exerted on our Healthcare and frontline workers relative to the virus.”