Vaccination preparedness study in Dutch Caribbean

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.

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