The content originally appeared on: The Anguillian Newspaper

Wednesday 16 February will be a significant milestone for our #VAXAXA Covid-19 Programme with the arrival of 700 paediatric doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. This represents a turning point in our health response that will help us expand COVID-19 vaccination protections to children in the age group 5 to 11.

Vaccination of our children will be time critical – the shelf life of the paediatric dose is limited to up to 10 weeks. It will require the collaborative efforts of the Health team, the department of education and of course parents and guardians.

In this 10-week period, the Ministry of Health aims to administer two doses to children in this age group. We ask all parents and guardians to register your interest for your child to be vaccinated on the website to ensure as many children as possible between the ages of 5 to 11 are vaccinated.

The paediatric doses will be given to children in the primary schools by the nurses from the National Immunisation Programme Ministry in collaboration with the Department of Education and the Ministry of Health. The schedule will be published tomorrow [February 15]. Additionally, opportunities will be made available for children in this age group to receive their vaccinations at a polyclinic.

The Government of Anguilla considers this initiative a major part of returning to normalcy as our island emerges from the pandemic. If the paediatric vaccination campaign is successful, the Government of Anguilla intends to relax most entry requirements by April 1, 2022 in keeping with its revised exit strategy, and the protection of children is paramount in this regard.

We are in a good position in terms of our vaccine uptake. But we cannot be complacent and we want as many people, especially children under the age of 18, as possible to take the Covid-19 vaccine. We continue to offer doses of the Pfizer vaccine to:
• all 12-17 year olds;
• those who have yet to be vaccinated; and
• for booster shots for those who already took their first two doses at least 3 months ago.

Covid-19 is usually mild in most children, but it can make some children unwell. A Covid-19 vaccine gives good protection against your child getting seriously ill. Vaccinating children will also help stop the spread of Covid-19 to other people, including within schools and households – where the vast majority of our cases are now appearing. Millions of children around the world have had a Covid-19 vaccine. The independent Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) based in the UK has confirmed the Pfizer vaccine is safe and effective for children aged over 12.

Similarly, a booster vaccine dose helps improve the protection you have from your first two doses of the vaccine and will help give you longer-term protection against getting seriously ill from Covid-19. Boosters will be delivered in a phased roll out based on age and more details will be made available.

Vaccination remains the most effective measure to protecting your health, the health of your loved ones and the health of our nation.

We therefore implore you to take advantage of the position we are in and to get vaccinated, or take your booster dose.

The Ministry of Health will publish guidance and information at
May God bless you and may God continue to bless Anguilla.