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Electronic Vaccination Passports Come Monday

SAINT Lucians will have access to electronic vaccination passports starting August 23. That is the word of the Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Sharon Belmar-George last week during a press conference.

Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Sharon Belmar-George
Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Sharon Belmar-George

“At present we’re using the vaccine card. We have noted a lot of persons have falsified that vaccine card. We are working with Digi Gov to finalize the electronic passport so from the 23 of August the electronic passport will be available. There’ll be an application process through a website to have persons get their electronic passport which will be more difficult to falsify,” Belmar-George explained.

She also said Saint Lucia’s herd immunity target has changed from 70% to 90%.

Stating that vaccination is crucial at this point in the country’s fight against COVID-19, the CMO spoke of the issues associated with the various variants of the virus, adding that the Delta variant which was discovered on island last week causes more infections and spreads faster than early forms of SARS-CoV-2 variants.

Although many Saint Lucians have doubts about the AstraZeneca vaccine, the Ministry of Health and Wellness hopes this will change once they have more options, hence the reason why more vaccines from other makers are being sought.

The island was expected to receive its first batch of the Pfizer vaccine yesterday, some 52, 000 doses. There has been talk of vaccines produced in Cuba being made available here once such vaccines have been approved by the World Health Organization (WHO).

“Vaccination really is the key and we’re not on target for our vaccination rate. I also need to indicate that what they’ve noted with the Delta variant (is that) to be able to get to herd immunity it’s a lot higher. For us to feel protected with the Delta variant circulating in country we would need to be closer to the 90’s as compared to the 70’s that we were working with in our national immunization plan,” Belmar-George said.

The Oxford’s AstraZenca vaccine, which is the only COVID-19 vaccine currently in use in country, lost its popularity earlier this year after it was linked to blood clotting. However, National Immunization Manager Tecla Jn Baptiste says there is nothing to be afraid of.

“This is when we noted the dip in the uptick of the vaccine but again I will just re-emphasize that the risks for developing clots from a COVID-19 vaccine is so small as compared to the risk of developing clots from COVID-19 infection itself. Of course we know all of the conspiracy theories and we know about persons having concerns about how fast the vaccine was developed and we know these are some of the things that continue to affect the acceptance of the vaccine,” Jn Baptiste stated.

According to Jn. Baptiste, “our next step is to intensify our public education. We will be providing public education so there will be presence of our team in the media, we will be doing the discussions on the ground, we will have dissemination of flyers, brochures, etc.,” she added.

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