Today’s report from The Hague that delivery of COVID-19 vaccines to the Dutch Caribbean will take place a bit later than hoped because of the complex logistics should not come as a complete surprise. Moreover, distribution in the Netherlands itself is delayed, among other things due to severe winter weather.
But if they arrive on February 19 as now announced it should be possible to begin the vaccination for healthcare professionals and seniors already registering soon after, presumably at the end of this month. Saba, which together with St. Eustatius will receive the immunisation files the same day, announced a February 22 start, while the process is already well underway in St. Martin and other nearby islands.
Traffic between them can normalise once most of each population has received their shots, in St. Maarten supposedly by June 1. At the same time, vaccinated visitors from abroad would probably not require pre-departure testing anymore when vacationing in these destinations.
It is a bit of race against the clock, as witnessed by the local mega-yacht season apparently “bottoming out” early (see related story) in fear of potential two-week quarantining requirements for returning to the US by the new Biden administration. This has led vessel owners to focus on charters out of South Florida and the US Virgin Islands.
However, as the vaccine rollout continues in North America and if COVID-19 conditions there improve, such a general measure might not be deemed necessary at all. Experts even say travel could see a significant boost once people hesitant to do so before are confident about not easily catching the dreaded disease.
So, cooperating with a speedy vaccination of practically all inhabitants is not only of great public health but also socioeconomic importance. Those who qualify should register for and get their shots quickly to help make that happen.