Covid-19 Vaccination Programme Update

The Health Directorate is pleased to advise that 107 frontline workers received the first dose of the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine last week.

Who are the frontline workers?

The frontline workers are the staff who have critical roles in managing the arrivals process including quarantine to St Helena and the staff who would have critical roles in managing a positive case of COVID-19.

How did we manage to deliver 107 vaccinations when only 100 doses were delivered? 

Every vial of vaccine is produced with two extra doses included to the specified amount to allow for any wastage that may occur when drawing up each syringed dose. John Woollacott, Pharmacist for the Health Directorate, was responsible for preparing each syringe of vaccine and did a good job in ensuring minimal wastage. In accordance with guidance from Public Health England (PHE), it was then possible to use the remaining vaccine in each vial. This allowed the team to vaccinate even more frontline staff than originally planned.

Have all the vaccinations been administered?

The Health Directorate still has one full vial of vaccine which will be used to provide the second dose to critical frontline workers in four weeks’ time. The ten staff involved at Bradley’s Intensive Care Unit will receive the second dose. This means that we expect to administer 117 vaccinations in total to 107 people.

What about side effects?

The Health Directorate is monitoring all recipients of the vaccine. There have been very few reports of side effects. These were anticipated side effects where people complained of sore arms and mild flu-like symptoms. There have been zero reports of serious or unexpected side-effects. 

What are the recipients of the vaccine saying?

Immigration Officer:

“Prior to receiving the vaccination, I had discussions with my family, especially my mum, who reassured me and built my confidence that having the vaccine was the right thing to do. I am not a fan of needles so hid my face through the procedure but it was so quick it was all over in no time…thank God!  After receiving the vaccine I was fine, a slightly dry mouth, arm hurt a little where the needle went in but that soon passed. I feel privileged to have had it considering that we are still COVID-free at this time.”

Mental Health Nurse:    

“The vaccine was painless, a dull ache in my arm for about a day but no other effects. I feel privileged to have had the vaccine as so many people around the world are still waiting for theirs (my family in Australia do not know when they will be vaccinated).But the next time I am out at the Airport as a Proper Officer meeting new arrivals –  nothing changes. We still need to practice social distancing, hand sanitisation and wearing a face mask.”

Health Worker:

“The vaccination didn’t hurt at all which really surprised me and the whole process was really stress free and well organised. Unfortunately though I did experience some symptoms after the vaccination. They were all things that were listed and explained to me as possibly happening, but you never think you will be the one that gets the side effects. For a few days after I felt like I had flu with aching limbs, headache and fever. I recovered well and only needed to take regular paracetamol, fluids and rest at home. Despite being unwell, I don’t regret having it and would do it again, especially considering that it is helping to protect me, my family and the Island as a whole.”

Chief Medical Officer, Dr Kamar Tanyan:

“It is a real privilege to receive and provide COVID-19 vaccines to frontline workers. The two days of vaccinations felt like days of celebration of scientific achievement. Vaccination has always been a very effective way to control infectious diseases. Those who received the vaccine were surprised by how easy the process was, some experienced mild side effects but all were able to manage with little disruption to their daily activities. When I think how disruptive the pandemic has been to all communities around the world, I consider minor side effects as a really acceptable compromise.”

To read more of the frontline workers experiences after receiving the vaccine please visit: 

Frontline Workers Vaccination Poster

#StHelena #COVID-19 #Vaccinations #KeyFrontlineWorkers

3 February 2021

St Helena Government Communications Hub

Telephone: 22470