26 January 2021
Following the receipt of 100 Oxford AstraZeneca vaccines on the flight of 11 January, the Health Directorate has now commenced vaccinations for key frontline workers. 80 frontline workers will receive their first dose of the vaccine whilst 10 critical staff members from the Health Directorate, who form the team at Bradley’s Hospital will receive both the first and second dose of the vaccine.
The vaccinations commenced on Tuesday 26 January 2021. The very first frontline worker to receive the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine was Practice Development Nurse, Mrs Latoya Thomas. Latoya is part of the team in the Health Directorate with a frontline role in the island’s COVID-19 response. She is directly involved in the process of testing arrivals to the island. Latoya is also part of the core team that would manage COVID-19 patients should someone test positive for COVID-19.
As St Helena is currently COVID-19 free, the only potential source of infection is arrivals to the island. The selected key frontline workers that will receive their first doses by the end of January 2021 are amongst those whose roles require them to have contact with persons arriving to the Island, during the quarantine period and who would be directly involved with the response and patient care should a positive case arise on-island.
It is not yet known whether the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine will reduce the transmission of COVID-19 but it is clearly shown that the vaccine significantly reduces the severity of symptoms in the unfortunate case that someone should contract COVID-19. This has obvious benefits for the individual but also benefits for the health service (and thus for the whole island) as it reduces the potential number of serious cases.
Latoya said “I personally, see this as the next step in trying to protect our Island community. St Helena is currently COVID-19 free, being given the opportunity to get vaccinated in order to continue to protect our community, family and friends was undoubtedly a yes from me”.
The vaccination of key frontline workers enables the Island to continue to work and to be prepared to respond in a practical way to minimise the risk of COVID-19 reaching the Island community. This is consistent with our COVID-19 Strategy.
SHG extends thanks to the UK Government for providing the 100 vaccines for the Island, as well as all other organisations involved. The Health Directorate would like to thank FCDO, Green Shield Cowie, Crown Agents, Movianto the St Helena Airport and Customs staff for the transportation, handling and offloading of the vaccines.
The Health Directorate continues to work towards a community vaccination programme to commence following the February flight. More details on this will follow in the coming weeks.
For more information or help on the AstraZeneca Vaccine, watch out for further updates within the local media.
26 January 2021