Prime Minister of Dominica, Roosevelt Skerrit said enough Dominicans should have received the COVID-19 vaccine in the next seven months for life in the country to become a bit more normal, but stressed that his government would not make immunization mandatory.
In an address to the nation on Friday, Skerrit said Dominica should receive one of the vaccines by April, and his government “is determined to purchase enough doses to be able to vaccinate every adult who wants it”.
“We believe if all goes well that by the end of August we will be able to vaccinate enough of our population to get the level of herd immunity that will make it possible to begin to return to what we may consider a semblance of normality,” he said.
“We understand that there is a level of vaccine hesitancy among many people, and while this government will never make taking the vaccine mandatory, we however will urge as many people as possible to get it when it becomes available.”
Herd immunity is the indirect protection from an infectious disease that happens when a population is immune either through vaccination or immunity developed through previous infection.
Skerrit said the global scientific community has worked well to deliver vaccines that so far have proven to be safe.
He noted that there have been very few reports of any adverse effects from the millions of doses already administered worldwide, and clinical trials have proven to be successful from the United States to the United Kingdom, from China to Cuba and India.
Dominica is currently working together with other Caribbean countries, through the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) to access WHO-approved vaccines through the COVAX Facility, a global initiative to ensure equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines for all countries.
“We have also been engaged in a number of bilateral negotiations to get additional doses,” Skerrit added.
However, he stressed, between now and the time the country reaches the stage of herd immunity “real dangers lurk”.
The Prime Minister, therefore, urged residents to adhere to all COVID-19 protocols to avoid any further restrictions.
“This government will not fail to act to take additional measures, nor to impose new limitations if at any time we feel that public safety is being undermined by our lack of adherence to the protocols,” he said.
“But through the grace of God, and through our collective actions, we do not believe that it will come to that. The government remains committed to exploring all possible avenues in maintaining and controlling the spread of COVID-19. However, the best contributing factors that will help us as a country in doing this, are the fundamental prevention measures that we need to instill or incorporate in our daily routine.”
As of Friday, the total number of confirmed cases in Dominica since the start of the pandemic was 119. Of those, 106 people have recovered.
The 13 active cases are all imported.