24 May 2021
PHILIPSBURG (DCOMM):—The Vaccination Management Team (VMT) announced on Monday, May 24th, that the mass vaccination with the Pfizer vaccine at the Belair Community Center, and the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labour (Ministry VSA) Collective Prevention Service (CPS) office will stop after July 31st.
The vaccination campaign started on February 22nd, and to date, the VMT has vaccinated 16.410 persons with the Pfizer vaccine, 35% of the set goal. The aim remains to reach 85% of the adult population (herd immunity) to be sufficiently protected against the COVID-19 virus and mutations.
With this level of immunization, similar to the island Saba (90%), the virus can’t spread anymore, and life can return to normal, which can entail no mask-wearing, no social distancing, hosting events, and free travel without limitations.
The VMT announced that after July 31st, the mass vaccination, meaning open walk-ins for everyone at the Belair Community Center, CPS, and several pop-ups will stop.
In the coming seven weeks, the Pfizer vaccine will still be available for everyone for free. On Friday, July 9th, the final first doses with the Pfizer vaccine will be administered, so the second dose can still be given three weeks later. Starting on Monday, July 12th, the one jab Janssen vaccine of Johnson & Johnson will be introduced.
After July 31st, vaccination will still be possible, but it won’t be as easy as it is now. From then onward, the mass vaccination campaign will end, and the VMT will move into the maintenance phase. During this phase, you will have to make an appointment and wait until there are five other recipients to finish the vial.
The Pfizer vaccine has been supplied by the Netherlands free of charge to the inhabitants of Sint Maarten. While the new vaccine will also be free, there will be a charge for the administering of the vaccine. The latter charge is not covered by the SZV or any health insurance and will have to be paid by the person requesting the vaccine.
The VMT strongly encourages everyone to come for their COVID-19 vaccine as soon as possible. Over the weekend, the country recorded its first COVID-19 death for 2021, and infection numbers are also rising rapidly. If this trend continues, we are likely looking at further restrictions and possibly another curfew and lockdown.
The Pfizer vaccine is the best on the market, and unlike many other countries worldwide, it is still available to the Sint Maarten population for free. It is scientifically proven safe and effective against the UK variant, which we know is the dominant strain on Sint Maarten. Curacao has managed to curb its outbreak by rapidly vaccinating its population. The effect of the vaccine can be clearly seen, with a steep decrease in active cases and transmissions and life returning to normal.
Vaccination will always be a personal decision as it can never be made mandatory. But every decision has consequences, and by choosing not to vaccinate, you endanger the lives of others, not only directly, but through the risk of unknowingly infecting others.
It will overburden the hospital, which means that regular healthcare can’t be provided to those who need it. In addition to that, it means a massive hit to the country’s economy and prolonging the return to normalcy. Another outbreak would mean thousands of vacation cancellations for the summer, which for most businesses could be fatal, resulting in many more job losses.
With your choice to take the vaccine, you reduce that chance of being infected with the COVID-19 virus by 95%, which means that the chances of infecting others are reduced by 95%. And in the slight case (5%) that you are infected, the vaccine protects you against the virus’s severe and possibly deadly symptoms.
Therefore, fully vaccinated persons do not have to quarantine after coming in contact with a person who tested positive, while unvaccinated persons must quarantine for at least ten days, CPS announced on Friday, May 21st.
On Monday, May 24th, the Minister of VSA Omar Ottley announced that you’d either have to get tested or be fully vaccinated to participate in all events. We are likely to see more measures like these in the near future because this is the only way of continuing our way of living safely and responsibly.
The VMT strongly encourages everyone who hasn’t received their vaccination yet to get vaccinated as soon as possible. We have the tools at hand to prevent a huge outbreak, as we saw in Curacao. If we continue to wait, we purposely endanger our loved ones, our island, and our economy.
The VMT urges everyone to understand the severity of the situation and not wait any longer. Come for your vaccine at the Belair Community Center and CPS on weekdays between 9:00 AM and 4:00 PM, or to the extended opening hours at the Belair Community Center till 8:00 PM on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Come for your vaccine and encourage others to do so as well.
Only if St. Maarten works together and uses the tools given to us can we prevent the scenario of Curacao from happening here too, the VMT concluded in its statement on Monday.
Sint Maarten Protected Together.