Doctors and nurses in the Virgin Islands have crossed a vaccination milestone, having given at least a first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine to 25,000 people, according a statement released over the weekend by the V.I. Health Department.
The territory is seeking to vaccinate 50,000 people by July and officials have said that lifting the current state of emergency depends on achieving that goal. “Crossing the 25,000th person mark makes me feel proud of the hard work put into this response by the health department and our local and federal partners. I am very pleased with the community’s willingness to participate since it takes everyone to do their part to help end the pandemic. It is important that we not only reach the governor’s goal, but that we exceed it,” said Health Commissioner Justa Encarnacion, in the weekend statement.
However, while 25,000 people have received a vaccination it the territory, it isn’t clear how many of those recipients are tourists as healthcare providers are not tracking recipients’ residency.
“A major concern across the nation is vaccine tourism,” Bryan said during a weekly Government House coronavirus press briefing. “I have heard of people flying in to get the vaccine.”
At the time, Bryan said he wants to “discourage trips to the territory solely for the purpose of immunization,” and confirmed reports of such activity by some recent travelers — though he said the number of vaccine tourists is a “very, very small percentage.”
Despite reaching the 25,000 mark, the territory continues to trail much of the nation in its vaccination effort. According to a survey by the Washington Post, the Virgin Islands has among the lowest vaccination rates in the nation with only Georgia, Alabama, Puerto Rico, the Marshall Islands, Wyoming and Federated States of Micronesia behind us.
In good news, the Washington Post survey also reports the territory’s vaccination rate is picking up speed with a 22 percent increase in the weekly change in doses administered.
“Every action we take to fight COVID-19 is for public health,” Encarnacion said. “I encourage you to get vaccinated. I chose to get vaccinated so that we could be closer to returning to normalcy with an increased level of comfort, and the return of cultural events.”
Vaccines are available to everyone aged 16 and over, and there is no residency requirement to receive a vaccination. Accommodations are available for seniors, individuals with disabilities, those needing language translation, and homebound individuals.
To book an appointment for the vaccine, please visit covid19usvi.com or call 340-777-8227.