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St Kitts PM calls for targeted messaging to address vaccine scepticism

Monday, April 26, 2021

BASSETERRE, St Kitts (CMC) — As the Caribbean Community (Caricom) observes Vaccination Week in the Americas, St Kitts and Nevis Prime Minister Dr Timothy Harris, is calling for greater public education programmes to combat the growing trend of vaccine hesitancy in the Caribbean, particularly as it relates to the COVID-19 jab.

“We already have a culture that values and embraces immunisation. However, there are strong pockets of COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy and scepticism. These must be addressed through targeted messaging and sensitisation,” said Harris in his address to mark the week's observation in his capacity as lead head on matters of health, HIV and human resources in the quasi Caricom Cabinet of Heads of Government.

He noted that the Caribbean has done well in the implementation of public health measures such as social distancing, mask wearing, and frequent hand washing, but insisted that the “mass vaccination to achieve herd immunity, as has been demonstrated with polio, is the trump card that is sadly missing”.

“The Caribbean region will not be safe until 70 to 90 per cent of its population is vaccinated. I repeat Caricom's call for more equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines. All eligible adults in the wider Caribbean region should have access to vaccine. Vaccination will boost the tourism sector and place us on the path to sustainable and resilient recovery. Our Caribbean is one of the most dependent regions on tourism flows,” he added.

Caricom Member States, including St Kitts and Nevis, are observing Vaccination Week in the Americas, April 24-30, under the theme, “Vaccines Bring Us Closer, #Get Vax”.

Harris noted that this year's awareness campaign will highlight the value of health and bringing people closer.

“During Vaccination Week in the Americas, we will focus on combatting the challenge of vaccine hesitancy by re-sensitising our people to the benefits of vaccination through continuing public education. Vaccines will bring us closer to a fairer Caricom! Vaccines will bring us closer to a fairer Caribbean! Vaccines bring us closer. #Get Vax NOW! You deserve the protection,” he said.

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