The Falkland Islands Government has welcomed the delivery of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine on Monday 1 February 2021. Upon arrival the vaccines were carefully offloaded from the South Atlantic Airbridge and were transported by road to the King Edward VII Memorial Hospital, where they were immediately taken to refrigeration units within the hospital.
The delivery of this batch of 3,000 doses has been provided by the UK government as part of its commitment to supply its Overseas Territories with Covid-19 vaccines. This will enable the Falkland Islands to vaccinate everyone over the age of 50, including people on our high and moderate risk registers, health and social care staff, and other frontline workers.
Chief Medical Officer, Dr Beccy Edwards, said: “We know we are exceptionally lucky to have been given this batch of vaccines. Although we have worked hard to contain Covid-19 and to prevent it spreading within the community, we have capacity challenges in terms of our medical resources. The vaccine is a good step towards providing an extra layer of protection for our population and we fully intend to make the most of the doses we have been given.”
MLA Leona Roberts added: “Although we are 8,000 miles away, we are still part of the UK family, and are very grateful that the UK government has allocated us enough vaccines to be able to immunise those people who are most susceptible to Covid-19 in our society. I know that everyone has worked tirelessly to enable us to receive the vaccine, including the UK government, the Armed Forces, and teams in the Falkland Islands – it has been a huge effort all round and I would like to thank every single person for the role that they have played.”
His Excellency, Governor Nigel Phillips, said: “The UK government is committed to supporting the UK family of Overseas Territories through the pandemic. In addition to the supply of PPE, the provision of a testing platform last year was a step change in capability as it gave the Falkland Islands the ability to make timely, evidence-based decisions. Collectively we have done all in our power to keep the virus out of our community and those efforts have met with success. But that achievement cannot be guaranteed going forward and, with capable but limited medical facilities, the ability to vaccinate those most at risk will not only be a source of huge comfort, but also helps protect our single hospital. I cannot overstate my gratitude for the provision of the vaccine and offer my thanks to all those who made it happen, something I know all Falkland Islanders will join me in saying.”
Plans are already in place to begin the Islands-wide vaccination programme from Monday 8 February onwards. Most vaccinations will take place at the FIDF Hall in Stanley, but others will be administered via a travelling vaccination service for West Falkland and the Outer Islands. Individuals already receiving support within community care will have their vaccinations provided by the community care team at the most appropriate location.
More detail on the vaccination programme will be published in the coming days. In the meantime, please do not contact the KEMH. If you are over 50 you will be offered the vaccine, if you are under 50 and eligible for vaccination then the hospital will contact you.