The first persons were vaccinated against COVID-19 on the French side, marking a hopeful new beginning for the territory to finally put the current unprecedented pandemic – at least to a large extent – behind it. St. Maarten will follow mid-February, along with the rest of the Dutch Caribbean.
The latter regards in total 86,000 persons. Freezers to store the temperature-sensitive vaccines sent by the Netherlands have already started arriving. A special delegate was named with top-level experience at the Dutch National Council for Public Health and the Environment RIVM, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO).
RIVM has assessed the relevant plans of the islands and will visit each in the coming weeks to assist with preparations, check and validate the equipment, as well as provide coaching management needed to roll out the vaccination programme. Locally, Collective Preventive Services (CPS) and the Health Department are heavily involved especially with the human resources aspect – including training – of the implementation programme.
The process will start with medical workers and practitioners, which makes sense because they deal directly with COVID-19 cases. Seniors will follow, and in a matter of months it should be possible to inject most of the population.
So, the end of this nightmarish ordeal appears near. That is even more reason not to let one’s guard down at this point, something a growing number of people seem to be doing as the crisis and related restrictions on their lives drag on for close to a year.
Just imagine how it would feel to have avoided getting infected all this time only to now slip up and contract the disease. That is like giving up a marathon with the finish line in plain sight.