Confirmation that free COVID-19 shots will remain available now that the mass vaccination campaign is ending (see Thursday paper) was most welcome. According to the Netherlands Institute for Public Health and the Environment RIVM in its report covering the July 13-21 period, St. Eustatius and St. Maarten have the lowest vaccination rate in the Dutch Caribbean.
Especially with the highly contagious Delta variant it is essential that this improves. Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transport and Telecommunication (TEATT) Minister Ludmila de Weever, on behalf of her Public Health, Social Development and Labour VSA colleague Omar Ottley, explained that Collective Prevention Services (CPS) will continue to inject “walk-ins” without an appointment until October 31.
The latter means even persons not able to make use of the last two pop-ups today, Friday, and Saturday can still get vaccinated for another three months. It would be best not to wait that long, however, as enhanced coverage will allow a faster and stronger recovery of the hard-hit tourism economy that – directly or indirectly – provides the livelihood of practically everyone on the island.
Until such relative immunity can be achieved it may also remain necessary to wear face masks and social distance in public for quite some time. No matter how you look at it, after a year-and-a-half of coronavirus-related restrictions that is lot to ask especially from those who did their part by taking the vaccine.