PHILIPSBURG--Minister of Public Health, Social Development and Labor VSA Richard Panneflek countered some of the misconceptions about the coronavirus COVID-19 vaccine during the live virtual Council of Ministers press briefing, saying that the vaccines are safe and effective.
During the question-and-answer session, Panneflek spoke about the fear held by some in the community that the vaccine is deadly. “You will continue hearing [in the community – Ed.] about people dying from the vaccine. Out of the investigations so far, those that have passed away were people [whose] health situation was very fragile,” he said.
Regarding concerns that the vaccine is dangerous because it was developed in record time, Panneflek said, “Why this vaccine came so fast is because the world…put a lot of funds into it so they can work on it faster.”
He added that, for example, the Netherlands invested large amounts of money to pharmaceutical research initiatives. Last year, the Dutch – along with France, Germany, and Italy – jointly committed funding to accelerate the development process and ensure global access to an effective vaccine.
Panneflek discredited the conspiracy theories surrounding the COVID-19 vaccine.
“What reason would I have to have any conspiracy theory with vaccination? The vaccination will build up your immune [system]. All of us, from babies up to [adults], have received all kinds of vaccinations. Now, all of a sudden, vaccinations are the worst thing that has been invented, while we are all alive right now because we got vaccinated from a baby. There are so many diseases, that if [we] were not vaccinated from them, would have massive casualties being recorded…
“Even though it is your own decision [to take the vaccine], you have to understand [that] if we all get vaccinated, or if most of us get vaccinated...we form the cordon of health [protection] around [those with critical conditions]. Because we cannot transmit it, they will be safe too. It is not only for you, but it is also for your loved ones, for your community,” he said.
When asked by a reporter about the number of vaccines that St. Maarten will receive, Panneflek was cagey in his response. He said he did not want to disclose exact figures for “security reasons” surrounding vaccine transport and storage.
“If you want everything in exact [figures], life is not exact,” he said. “This is a health situation. So, we have to adapt as we go. If I tell you the vaccination [distribution] place will be at X location, but afterwards with experience it shows that it is better to put it in Z location. Should we not change it? This is a dynamic process.”
Aruba’s government disclosed on Tuesday that the island received 11,700 doses in the first batch sent by the Netherlands.