BASSETERRE, ST. KITTS, March 19, 2021 (MMS-SKN) — As the Covid-19 vaccination rollout continues, Prime Minister Dr the Hon Timothy Harris on Thursday March 18 pledged his strongest support to healthcare workers for the work they are doing, and further advised persons eligible for vaccination to do it now while the vaccine is still available.
“I want to give the strongest support to all the healthcare workers who are working so excitedly to ensure that we defeat Covid-19,” said Prime Minister Harris at a Covid-19 Vaccination Clinic and Information Session Awareness Campaign held at the recently opened Lodge/Ottley’s Community Centre in Constituency Number Seven which he represents in Parliament.
He asked those in attendance, who were drawn both from the constituency and from other areas on the island, to give all the nurses at all the health centres a special round of applause, and noted that they (nurses) are seen at work, taking the time and the patience to ensure that the health of the people comes first.
“Last Saturday I visited the New Town Health Centre, as I have been doing over the last three weeks, to see who is going – yes, to encourage persons to go, but perhaps more importantly to say to the healthcare workers, the country values what you are doing,” stated Dr Harris. “I was heartened to have met two of our retired nurses who came back out from retirement to give special support to the vaccination programme.”
While he mentioned the two, Nurse Sylvia Isaac and Nurse Connor, Prime Minister Harris observed that he had been informed that it was about eight nurses who have returned to give support to the vaccination programme. He added: “We certainly need all of the support that we can to get this behind us as quickly as possible.”
The session was chaired by Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health Dr Delores Stapleton-Harris, and was facilitated by Medical Chief of Staff at the JNF General Hospital Dr Cameron Wilkinson. In attendance included, District Medical Officer and Deputy Speaker, Senator the Hon Dr Bernicia Nisbett, and General Surgeon Dr Natalie Osborne who was praised by Prime Minister Harris for having conducted a Covid-19 vaccination information session on Sunday March 14 at the Cayon Church of God.
Others were Medical Practitioner Dr Dail Crawford, National HIV/AIDS Programme Coordinator and Health Educator Dr Mathias Afortu-Ofre, and Consultant Clinical/Forensic Psychologist, Dr Sharon Gopaul McNikol, who according to Prime Minister Harris has been working with the country for some time particularly in the issues of crime reduction, counselling and support.
“The vaccines finally, at long last, have come to St. Kitts and Nevis,” said the Prime Minister as he congratulated the over 7,000 persons who had already been vaccinated since the rollout began. “We have made them available to you free of cost and all you have to do is to receive it freely. Do it first to signal that you care about you – you care about your health.”
According to the Honourable Prime Minister, the vaccines available are scarce and he added that he could not promise that they will still be available to those people who are opting to wait. He advised them that the vaccines have a shelf life and that they have to be used before the shelf life ends.
He further advised that St. Kitts and Nevis was expecting 21,600 doses this month from the Covid-19 Vaccines Access (COVAX) facility, but he told the participants at the information session that the report received is that they will now send 7,000+ this month, 7,000 next month, and another 7,000 the month after.
“There is a shortage, but we have enough now to ensure that more than half the target group can get at least their first shot,” advised Dr Harris. “Do not continue to waste time, and waste people’s time by refusing to take the vaccine which is now readily available to you.”
In further encouraging eligible persons to get vaccinated, Prime Minister Harris noted that just like wearing the mask is a sign of respect and a sign of love for others, the new standard now is for people to take the vaccine. He observed that it will soon get to a point when without vaccination one will not be allowed on planes, as the world is now moving away from the mask requirement to the standard that one must get their vaccine.
“So again I encourage you to have responsibility – do not hesitate,” pleaded Prime Minister Harris as he concluded his remarks. “I want you to get vaccinated. The sooner you do that, the sooner we can open up our country. The sooner you do that, the sooner those who work at Marriott Hotel, at Koi, at Jack Tar, at Park Hyatt, at Four Seasons, who are home waiting because there is limited business, the sooner they will be able to get back to work.”
At question time only two persons rose, and ended up asking almost an identical question if they could take the vaccine if they are allergic to penicillin, to which Dr Wilkinson assured them that they could safely take the Covid-19 vaccine. A number of persons were vaccinated as the session was on going, and the number increased to a level where they had to queue after the session was over. Several proudly posed for pictures with Prime Minister Harris, after they received the jab.