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Health Ministry sets target to vaccinate entire population

Health Minister Nickolas Steele

Health Minister Nickolas Steele is optimistic that Grenada can vaccinate its entire population within the next three to four months to provide them with some form of protection against the deadly coronavirus that has killed millions around the world.

Speaking to THE NEW TODAY on Tuesday, the senior government minister said that the island is currently doing between 300 to 350 vaccination per day on average since the programme started two weeks ago but the ideal target is to do 1000 persons a day.

He said if that is done then it will take 3 to 4 months to vaccinate the entire population in Grenada, Carriacou & Petite Martinique but that also depends on the cooperation of everybody on the island.

The senior government minister disclosed that the island will have enough vaccines on hand over that period in order to achieve the goal of vaccinating the entire population.

Grenada has been the beneficiary of 1000 doses of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 Vaccine as part of a shared gift from the Indian Government that was negotiated by Prime Minister of Barbados, Mia Mottley and Prime Minister of Dominica, Roosevelt Skerrit.

Health officials also announced that 6000 doses of the vaccine are already on the island for shots to get into the arms of Grenadians.

Minister Steele debunked suggestions that Grenada lacks a protocol to deal with an adverse case that might arise from someone who took the vaccine.

He said the island has put in place all the international protocols to be followed including making sure that “all of the prescribed medication (are) on hand to respond to any anabolic reaction from the vaccine”.

According to the senior government minister, there is always a secondary room on the vaccination site to handle cases where people might get a reaction after being vaccinated.

This, he said, is already fully in place not only at the St. George’s General Hospital where Covid-19 vaccination takes place but also at the Radisson hotel in the south of the island where employees in the Hospitality Sector are currently being vaccinated.

The minister sought to assure Grenadians that anywhere vaccine is being given to the population one can expect to see the facility come into play.

“We always make sure that the Emergency response is always available,” he remarked.

Minister Steele told THE NEW TODAY that no one who has received the vaccine on island has had any adverse reaction to it.

“There are people who have had the expected side effects like a slight fever, chill or aches…. that is expected but no one has had an adverse reaction,” he said.

Asked to comment on reports circulating that one minister got sick the day after being administered the vaccine, Minister Steele skirted around the question but said, “Let me repeat it …. there are people that have had side effects of aches and pain or minor fever, headaches – no one has had any adverse reaction”.

As regards those government ministers who were vaccinated, Minister Steele said: “There are some that had minor fever, or aches and pain”.

Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell was reportedly the first to take the shot and he did not complain of any side effects.

According to Minister Steele, he took the vaccine and did not have any discomfort.

“I had none at all. I was looking to see if at least I would have had some aches or slight fever or pain but nothing,” he told THE NEW TODAY.

However, he said that some of the local nurses who took the vaccine said they did feel “slightly feverish or so but nobody has had any adverse reaction”.

The senior government minister announced that he would be reaching out to members of the Opposition with the hope of contacting all of them by Friday to extend an invitation to get vaccinated at their convenience.

THE NEW TODAY understands that an approach was made to Opposition Leader, Tobias Clement to get vaccinated on the first day of the exercise but he was unavailable as he was on a boat travelling to Petite Martinique to help prepare for the funeral of his mother on Friday (today).

The Health Minister said that Healthcare workers who are in the frontline battle against Covid-19 can go to the designated centres at any time to get the vaccine.

Asked if local pharmacies will be considered for involvement in the programme if any of them can access the vaccine, Minister Steele said that will not be possible because the producers of the vaccines “are only selling to governments.”

This week the Ministry of Health provided an opportunity to media workers to get vaccinated since they are considered to be part of the Essential Services and frontline workers.

Grenada now has the second lowest Covid-19 figures in the Windward Islands of 148 cases recorded since the virus was first detected in March 2020.

As of Tuesday, Dominica had 134 cases, St. Vincent & The Grenadines (1503) and St. Lucia (3135).

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that Roosevelt Skerrit was the Prime Minister of Barbados. Roosevelt Skerrit is the Prime Minister of Dominica. 

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