Vaccination on islands not possible before mid-Feb.

Vaccina­tion of the population in Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba cannot be done be­fore mid-February, accord­ing to Dutch Minister of Public Health, Welfare and Sport Hugo de Jonge.

Mid-February is the fast­est achievable timeframe in which people can be vacci­nated against COVID-19, stated the minister during a plenary debate in the Sec­ond Chamber of the Dutch Parliament on Tuesday eve­ning.

Earlier during the debate, which had as sole agen­da point the vaccination policy, Member of Parlia­ment Rob Jetten of the Democratic Party D66 had asked the minister why vac­cination on the Caribbean Netherlands islands would only start mid-February, and not simultaneously with the programme in the Netherlands.

De Jonge acknowledged that while vaccination had started earlier in the Neth­erlands, on January 6, the vaccination programme in the Caribbean Netherlands would he completed before that of the Netherlands due to the small scale of the is­lands. In St. Eustatius and Saba, all residents will be able to be vaccinated at once.

De Jonge did not say why vaccination on the islands would start five weeks later than in the Netherlands. During the virtual opening of the Inter-Parliamentary Consultation of the King­dom IPKO on Wednesday, Member of the Second Chamber Antje Diertens (D66) shed some light on the reason.

Diertens explained that the freezers in which the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines have to be stored at minus 80 degrees Celsius will be arriving a bit later in Bo­naire than planned. Dier­tens noted that despite the later start, it is expected that vaccination on the is­lands will be completed earlier than in the Nether­lands.

Paternotte said in his opening remarks that resi­dents of St. Eustatius and Saba should be vaccinated by the end of February. Af­ter the vaccination has been completed, regular flights between the Windward islands can be resumed, which is important to eco­nomic recovery, he added.

In Aruba, Minister of Public Health Dangui Oduber explained during a press conference earlier this week that it was not en­tirely clear how many of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines would be coming to the is­land, but it would not be a lot, as it was considered a first, limited batch.

Oduber stated that the Netherlands was in the pro­cess of sending the freezers to Aruba and they were ex­pected to arrive on January 13. He said Netherlands National Institute for Pub­lic Health and the Environ­ment RIVM would be in Aruba on January 25 and 26 to check the local prepa­rations for the vaccination programme.

The plan is to start vaccinating mid-February, confirmed Oduber. “We are ready to receive the vaccines and have worked hard in the past months to prepare,” he said. The first group that will receive the vaccine arc healthcare workers and front-liners.

The second group to be vaccinated are persons ages 60 and older in the risk group, followed by those in the same age group but with no underlying medi­cal issues. The rest of the population will come after that. Oduber said it was the intention to vaccinate as many people as possible in the first quarter. He re­minded the public that vac­cinating was not mandatory and that it was important that people respected each other’s opinion with regard to this issue.

In order to receive the vaccines, Aruba needs to comply with a number of conditions, including an execution plan which con­tains a personnel plan, a registration system and a communication plan to in­form the public of details on where the vaccinations will take place (locations) and how the vaccines will be transported there while maintaining the proper temperature.

The Daily Herald.

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