Saint Lucia on Monday, March 1, 2021, received a donation of 25,000 doses of the Oxford AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine from the Republic of India as a gesture of friendship and solidarity. This support is a very tangible expression of the commitment by the Republic of India to support the government and people of Saint Lucia in reducing the spread of COVID-19. This donation of vaccines will significantly strengthen our national COVID-19 vaccination campaign.
The administering of vaccines in Saint Lucia began on Wednesday, February 17, 2021, and for the past two weeks it has been focused on vaccinating those who are at the highest risk of being exposed to the virus; that is health care workers in clinical settings, first responders, security service personnel and other front-line workers. All of these personnel are within Phase 1A of our vaccination campaign and as such were given first priority for receiving the vaccine.
The Ministry of Health, and by extension the Government of Saint Lucia, is deeply grateful to the Republic of India for this generous donation. We know this will benefit the management of COVID-19 in our country as the vaccine will not only help in reducing transmission of the virus, but it will also reduce severe COVID-19 infection, hospitalization and death. All of these are the public health improvements that become possible through vaccination.
The AstraZeneca vaccine will help in protecting our citizens, reducing pressures of treatment and care on our health care system and limit the impact of COVID-19 on our country as a whole. And for this, we are forever thankful to the Republic of India for this partnership.
This week, the National COVID-19 Vaccination Campaign will continue with our frontline workers and Phase 1B will also commence. In Phase1B people who are 65 years and older; residents of elderly homes and people living with chronic health conditions will be vaccinated. As such, Phases 1A and 1B will be taking place at the same time.
In the coming weeks, vaccination will be extended to the thousands of Saint Lucians who have registered for the COVID-19 vaccine. Announcements of this shall be made by the Ministry of Health of the schedule of these other phases in preparation of their commencement.
Vaccination sites have been identified across the island; and will be announced weekly.