— St. Maarten lowest vaccination rate in Kingdom —
The COVID-19 outbreak in the Dutch Caribbean is diminishing since late December 2021 with a sharp reduction in the number of new and active cases on all islands.
According to Dutch Minister of Public Health, Wellbeing and Sport Ernst Kuipers, it looks like the top number of hospital admissions was reached late January 2022 and the number of admissions has been declining steadily. The decrease in the number of infections and the lessened pressure on healthcare make it possible to relax the measures. Per early February, the measures are being relaxed on most islands, except St. Maarten, where the pressure on healthcare is still high.
St. Maarten Medical Center (SMMC) temporarily ceased elective admissions since January 24 due to the high number of infections among hospital personnel. At this time, elective care is being restarted at the St. Maarten hospital.
Minister Kuipers’ COVID-19 update letter showed that St. Maarten still has the lowest vaccination rate in the Dutch Kingdom. Per February 14, 47 per cent of the St. Maarten population ages 18 and up was fully vaccinated, compared to 75 per cent in Aruba and 72 per cent in Curacao.
In Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba, the vaccination rate is respectively 79 per cent, 60 per cent and 93 per cent of the population ages 18 and up. The vaccination rate among 12- to 17-yearolds is 38 per cent in Curacao, 60 per cent in Aruba, 25 per cent in St. Maarten, 62 per cent in Bonaire, 29 per cent in St. Eustatius and 94 per cent in Saba. Per February 7, the phased reduction of personnel hired through the American employment placement agency with funding of the Dutch Ministry of Public Health, Wellbeing and Sport VWS, has started. These temporarily-hired doctors and nurses worked for some time at the hospitals in St. Maarten and Curacao.
Health authorities on the islands offer a basic vaccination series to all residents ages 5 and older. St. Eustatius will soon start with the vaccination of children ages 5-11. Booster vaccinations are offered to prolong the effectiveness of the basic vaccinations.
Islands’ health authorities have started to apply a different approach whereby teams go into the districts to reach vulnerable groups that have not been (fully) vaccinated as yet. The VWS Ministry offers Aruba and Curacao financial support in the implementation of the booster campaigns and the vaccination of specific groups.
The Daily Herald.