Preparations for the COVID-19 vaccination are progressing well on Saba. Registration continues with so far more than 900 persons having signed up to receive the Moderna vaccine when it arrives on the island shortly after February 15.
Vaccination of the adult population will take place at the Eugenius Johnson Community Center in Windwardside, stated Head of the Public Health Department Dr. Koen Hulshof. Persons living in the elderly home will be vaccinated at the home. 1,400 vaccines will come to Saba in the first batch, enough for the entire adult population.
Persons who have registered will be contacted and informed about the specific date and timeslot for the vaccination. It will take an estimated 6 to 7 days to vaccinate Saba’s adult population. The second shipment of the Moderna vaccine for the necessary second vaccination should arrive four weeks after the first.
Behind the scenes, the Public Health Department and Saba Health Care Foundation (SHCF) are working hard to prepare everything for the vaccinations. A lot of logistics and trainings have been and are still taking place to ensure a safe vaccination, said Hulshof. He asked people to be a bit patient because it is a new process and quite a logistic challenge to vaccinate many people in such a short time.
“We hope that as many people as possible will decide to get vaccinated. We have to be realistic: the coronavirus will not go away, and we will have to accept that it will come to the island from time to time. In order to protect yourself and the people around you, it is important to get vaccinated,” said Hulshof.
Vaccination is also important to get some normalcy back in the health care referrals abroad. Many medical referrals of patients outside of Saba have been postponed and/or delayed in the past year due to COVID-19. It is essential to restore these medical referrals in the interest of people’s health.
Getting vaccinated also means getting some freedom back for the people: being able to travel again to see your loved ones abroad, going off-island to get a breather, said Hulshof. More than 100 million vaccinations have been administered worldwide. In some countries, the COVID-19 numbers already appear to be going down as a result of vaccination.
Island Governor Jonathan Johnson encouraged people to get vaccinated. “I will surely get a vaccination and I’m calling on people to make an informed decision.” In the period leading up to the vaccination, the population will continue to be informed. This is being done in different languages for the specific target groups. The Public Health Department has a hotline where people can ask questions and get information: 4165373
The freezer in which the vaccines will be stored has already been installed and will get validated this week. Public health nurses Tedisha Gordon and Jenneke van Bussel will start the process of validation on Thursday, February 4. They will use a check list to test the function ability of the fridge and to make sure that it maintains the conformity standards set by the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) in the Netherlands. The freezer has to continuously keep a temperature of about minus 20 degrees Celsius, the storage temperature for the Moderna vaccine.
The results of the validation will be sent to the RIVM. The delegation of the RIVM and the Ministry of Public Health, Welfare and Sport (VWS) which visited Saba last month was satisfied with the
preparations that have taken place.