CARICOM Secretary-General Ambassador Irwin LaRocque on Friday praised the strong solidarity within CARICOM as Member States share their limited first batches of COVID-19 vaccines.
The Secretary-General’s comment came as he led his CARICOM Secretariat Staff in taking vaccine shots from 100 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine provided by Prime Minister Mia Mottley of Barbados. The Barbados Prime Minister also made donations to Guyana and other CARICOM neighbours from its supply of 100,000 doses received from India. Dominica, which also received 70,000 doses from India, has shared with some Eastern Caribbean territories.
“This shows the solidarity that exists in CARICOM,” the Secretary-General said. “We’ve always addressed the issue of COVID-19 as a collective,”.
“When we were in a spot of bother last year, those countries that were able to get PPEs (personal protective equipment), reagents and Test Kits were also able to share with others,” he added.
Ambassador LaRocque thanked President Dr Irfaan Ali of Guyana for arranging for Guyana’s Ministry of Health to vaccinate the CARICOM Secretariat Staff. He also thanked Prime Minister Modi of India for his generous contribution of 500,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines to the Caribbean Community, calling it “a tangible expression of goodwill in this challenging time”.
The Secretary-General encouraged the people of the Region to take the vaccine, but to also continue to observe the COVID-19 preventative measures – including social distancing, regular washing of hands, and not touching eyes, nose and mouth.
Friday’s vaccination exercise also saw strong endorsement of the AstraZeneca vaccine and its effectiveness from the CARICOM Secretariat’s Assistant Secretary-General for Human and Social Development Dr. Douglas Slater, a Public Health physician.
“We know that it works and I am encouraging all of our citizens to take it. If you take the vaccine you will be protected against serious illness and death,” Dr Slater said.