Prime Minister Dr. the Hon. Timothy Harris

BASSETERRE, St. Kitts — Prime Minister Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris is urging citizens and residents of St. Kitts and Nevis to take the vaccine next week when the Federation begins to vaccinate people against the deadly Novel Coronavirus.

Prime Minister Harris, told the sitting of the National Assembly on February 18 that his Government is aware of a global anti-vaccine campaign that has impacted on citizens and has created a challenge to the Federation’s efforts to fight COVID-19.

Dr. Harris told citizens and residents that by taking the vaccine, “You are not only protecting yourself, but also those around you and those who are too young, frail or ill to take the vaccine.”

“The primary objective of the vaccines is to prevent serious illness which may also lead to death,” said Dr. Harris. “There is no better reason to accept the vaccine than that of saving your life and that of your loved ones. The vaccines are safe with no significant side effects so far and they have undergone significant testing to ensure their efficacy and safety.”

“Higher rates of vaccination will eventually reduce the rate of infection, illness, and deaths,” said Dr. Harris. “It will also reduce the possibility of new variants since more infections equal higher chance of mutation to new and possibly dangerous variants. This is a ‘Novel’ disease and so, much is yet to be learned. However, the existing vaccines have all shown from trials data to be effective in preventing serious illness and/death.”

Dr. Harris said that a regional communications unit to promote vaccine acceptance is being coordinated by the Caribbean Public Health Agency and the Caribbean Community’s Communication Unit, will work in conjunction with the Federation’s educational efforts.

Prime Minister Harris noted that the importance of taking the vaccine cannot be overstated.

“Even if you survive the infection and recover, there is the possibility that you might get what is described as Long COVID-19,” said Dr. Harris. “This is generally defined as the lingering effects in some persons infected by the virus. These persons show symptoms or complications beyond the four- to 12-week period considered to be the usual expected time for recovery from infection. This has been found in all levels of infection, from mild to severe. Some of the symptoms are very serious and due to the unknown characteristics of the disease process, is more reason we should all give serious consideration to taking the vaccine,” Prime Minister Harris advised.

The Federation’s mass vaccination plan is expected to begin on Monday, February 22.