The Turks and Caicos Islands Government will launch its COVID-19 vaccine booster programme on Monday 4th October, according to a news release from the Minister of Health and Human Services Hon. Jamell Robinson on Friday.
The green light for the programme to come on stream was given by Cabinet upon recommendation by the Ministry of Health.
In addition to Minister Robinson, the Booster Programme got strong support from other members of the Cabinet, including the Governor His Excellency Nigel Dakin, Deputy Governor Her Excellency Anya Williams, Premier Hon. Washington Misick, and Deputy Premier Hon. E. Jay Saunders.
The minister said the booster vaccine is geared to provide greater protection to the vulnerable within the country, who had previously been fully vaccinated more than six months ago and who are most at risk of severe effects of the disease.
The Minister said the strategy is based upon the UK guidelines and focuses on priority groups who would benefit from a third dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. These groups are:
Chronic non-communicable diseases clients
Elderly - Adults 50 years and over
Health care and frontline workers
Caregivers of the vulnerable
According to the minister, the listed groups would be eligible for the booster shot only if they have completed the two-dose series more than 6 months ago. He said eligible persons should reach out to their health care providers to schedule their booster dose.
The booster vaccine programme rolled out in the UK on September 20, and in the USA on September 24.
On September 9, Dr June Raine, Chief Executive of the MHRA (Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency), which regulates medicines, medical devices and blood components for transfusion in the UK, issued the following statement:
“We know that a person’s immunity may decline over time after their first vaccine course. I am pleased to confirm that the COVID-19 vaccines made by Pfizer and AstraZeneca can be used as safe and effective booster doses. This is an important regulatory change as it gives further options for the vaccination programme, which has saved thousands of lives so far.
“The regulatory decision followed a careful review of available data on safety and effectiveness of booster or supplementary vaccine doses by the MHRA and the independent Commission on Human Medicines (CHM), which advises the government.”
The Health Minister noted that the TCI is currently progressing on its fifth tranche of the vaccine which was received from the UK and anticipates the receipt of additional doses of the vaccine to support the ongoing rollout of the vaccine to all eligible residents as well as the booster programme.
“The vaccine is critical to the ongoing national response to the COVID19 pandemic. The vaccines are safe and can prevent severe illness requiring hospitalization.
“All eligible persons are encouraged to get vaccinated to continue protecting themselves, their loved ones and the wider community. All eligible persons who are unvaccinated are encouraged to take the vaccine,” the statement said.