The U.S. government said Wednesday that it will deliver nearly 837,000 Pfizer vaccines to six Caribbean nations to assist with COVID-19.
The Bahamas – 397,000 doses,
Trinidad and Tobago – 305,370 doses
Barbados – 70,200 doses
St. Vincent and the Grenadines – 35,100
Antigua & Barbuda – 17,550
St. Kitts and Nevis – 11,700
The announcement was made the same day that Dr. Carissa Etienne, director of the Pan American Health Organization, urged those in the Caribbean to get vaccinated and follow public health measures, warning that small islands have limited expertise and capacity.
“I am truly very concerned about what is happening in the Caribbean,” she said, noting that some islanders and even health care workers are rejecting the vaccines. “We are playing with our lives.”
The White House officials also announced that thousands of specialized syringes required for the Pfizer vaccine were also donated.
“The Biden-Harris administration’s highest priority in the Americas today is managing and ending the COVID pandemic and contributing to equitable recovery,” said Juan González, the National Security Council’s senior director for the Western Hemisphere.
In addition, USAID, which has provided more than $28 million to help 14 Caribbean nations fight COVID-19, expects to announce additional funding soon, according to a White House official.
The Caribbean region has reported more than 1.29 million cases and more than 16,000 deaths, with some 10.7 million people vaccinated so far, according to the Trinidad-based Caribbean Public Health Agency.
Among the hardest hit Caribbean nations is Haiti, which on July 14 received its first vaccine shipment since the pandemic began. The U.S. donated 500,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine to Haiti via the United Nations’ COVAX program for low-income countries.
On Wednesday, Haitian Health Minister Lauré Adrien said some 16,000 people in Haiti have been vaccinated and that all of the country’s 10 departments have received a supply of vaccines.
The announcement by the U.S. government comes amid recent anti-vaccine protests in Guyana, Antigua and St. Vincent and the Grenadines, whose prime minister was hit in the head with a rock last week and was briefly hospitalized.
Meanwhile, two firefighters in Guadeloupe were injured during recent protests against a COVID-19 curfew, according to a government statement. A similar protest also was reported in nearby Martinique, a French island of more than 370,000 people that is reporting 1,176 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, a spike that officials blame on the delta variant and low vaccination rates.
“Tourists are invited to end their stay in Martinique,” the prefecture said on Monday.
That same day, officials in Martinique issued new regulations including shutting down beaches and nonessential businesses and ordering people to not venture farther than roughly half a mile (1 kilometer) from home. Meanwhile, officials in the U.S. Virgin Islands announced upcoming measures including closing beaches by late afternoon on weekends.
Among the islands most struggling with a spike in COVID-19 cases are the Bahamas, Curacao, Martinique, Guadeloupe and Trinidad and Tobago.
France recently announced it was deploying military medics and ICU units to the French Caribbean to fight the virus surge, and military planes were bringing some critically ill patients to the French mainland for treatment.
Source: AP News