Cheering and clapping sounded in the Eugenius Johnson Center, Saba’s vaccination location, after the first three persons received their vaccination against COVID-19 on Monday morning, February 22.
Nurse Naomi Wilson, Island Governor Jonathan Johnson, and public health doctor Koen Hulshof were the first to be injected with the Moderna vaccine. As they walked to the adjacent area for the 15-minute observation, people waiting outside for their vaccination appointment erupted in a spontaneous clapping.
“I feel good. This was a special moment for me,” said nurse Naomi (62), a cancer survivor who works at the hospital. She said it was important to take the vaccine and encouraged others to do the same. “It went well,” said Island Governor Johnson. He called on people to be patient during the vaccination process. By noon Monday, some two hours after vaccination had started, 100 Sabans were already vaccinated.
Once completed in April, Saba can work towards normalcy and reopen its borders. “We can regain the freedoms that we didn’t have for a year. We will be able to visit friends and family abroad again. And, very important, we can get elective medical care outside Saba normalized,” said Johnson.
“This is the first step back to normalcy,” said Dr. Hulshof, whose team, together with personnel of the Saba Health Care, has been preparing the vaccination process. An estimated 80 to 85 percent of the adult population is expected to get vaccinated. “We hope that this number will increase to 90 percent,” said Hulshof. This means that Saba would be the first municipality within the Dutch Kingdom to reach such a high vaccination coverage.
The batch of 1,500 vaccines arrived on Saba per helicopter from the Netherlands via St. Maarten on Friday, February 19, sufficient vaccines for the island’s entire adult population. Vaccination will take until Monday, March 1. On Monday, February 22, health care workers, persons 60 years and older and persons with a medical condition from The Bottom and St. John’s got vaccinated.
The second batch of vaccines is scheduled to arrive next month. Authorities are preparing a phased reopening of Saba in May after an extra catch-up vaccination round in April for those who were not on the island during the first or second round.