The ability of Grenada to reach post-COVID-19 days will depend on the success of an aggressive vaccination programme, according to Minister of Health Nickolas Steele.
“That can happen very quickly. We’re a population of 100,000. It is not that difficult for us to get to there and we can get to there, if we do it together, within the first half of this year. We need to aim for that,” he said at the conclusion of Tuesday’s post Cabinet press briefing.
Earlier this month the Ministry of Health conducted an online survey that requested the age, gender and occupation of respondents, as well as whether they would consider taking a COVID-19 vaccination and recommending others take it. The survey concluded on January 22. When asked about the results the Minister declined to provide many details, telling reporters “we’ve been looking at it almost daily and adjusting accordingly.”
The “benefit and the value of the survey to us” the Minister said “it’s not that we believed individuals didn’t have any concerns about a vaccine but, more appropriately, identify what the specific concerns are so that those can be addressed and discussed.”
Those concerns include worries about the speed with which the vaccines have been developed, potential short- and long-term side effects, effectiveness and safety. He said the results of the survey are being quantified and classified.
Referring to the widely available disinformation and misinformation about vaccines and the need to provide science-based, accurate information, he said he respects the anxieties people are having.
“We will be addressing it so that we can all find a level of comfort to be able to take the vaccine and develop the immunity so our body can fight off COVID if we do get COVID; so that we can get back to life as normal,” he said, indicating a public information initiative is on the way.
Both the Pfizer and BioNTech and the AstraZeneca are under consideration for Grenada’s vaccination program.
“We believe it will most likely be one of those two, or both of those; and I am hoping it can happen as soon as February,” he predicted.
Grenada has the capacity to store the World Health Organisation (WHO) approved Pfizer and BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, which must be kept at minus 80 degrees Celsius and requires two doses 21 days apart. It has been reported by Reuters that the WHO advisory panel will review the AstraZeneca vaccine on February 08.
The Minister also noted the increasing global demand for vaccinations, as the European Union makes moves to protect its contracted vaccines from pharmaceutical companies and other countries experience setbacks in supplies and distributions.