Vaccination teams of the various islands in the Caribbean part of the Kingdom, in collaboration with the Dutch Ministry of Public Health, Welfare and Sport VWS, will start research on vaccination preparedness during the coming days. The purpose is to come up with strategies to back up the awareness campaign and support the vaccination process in the last phase. The study will be executed by local researchers in collaboration with I&0 Research.
Last February 2021, the COVID-19 vaccination programmes began on Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba (BES) as well as the three autonomous countries Curacao, Aruba and St. Maarten (CAS), in stages. People ages 60 or over and healthcare staff were the first in line to be injected.
From April, this was extended to all adults and since the beginning of the month it now includes 12- to 17-year-olds. In the meantime, almost 400,000 vaccinations have been administered to inhabitants of the six islands.
The Netherlands’ National Institute for Public Health and the Environment RIVM calculates that, since the Delta variant of the virus has been detected in all three CAS-countries and on Bonaire, a vaccination rate of approximately 75 to 85 per cent of the total population should be reached to achieve herd immunity.
The vaccination teams indicated that they appreciate further research to support an evidence-based view of what keeps vaccine sceptics and refusers from getting vaccinated, which can complement the strategies and communication policy to enhance vaccination preparedness.
For this reason, VWS, in partnership with local health authorities, is going to execute qualitative research on the Leeward and Windward islands by means of in-depth interviews and focus group enquiries on the reasons people may have to let themselves be vaccinated or not. Special attention will be given to 12- to 40-yearolds.
The teams also indicated that not everybody shows up for their second shot. This means people are not fully vaccinated and therefore not optimally protected against serious illness or even death due to coronavirus. This question will therefore also be included in the study.
The research was scheduled to take place at the beginning of August, with the results to be presented early September to VWS and the vaccination teams. Based on the in-depth interviews, the researchers will formulate specific policy recommendations to increase the vaccination preparedness in the Caribbean part of the Kingdom. In doing so, they will consider the local circumstances, including the capacity of the vaccination teams to take up these recommendations.
The Daily Herald.