The Falkland Islands Government has received a batch of Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccines, supplied by the UK government, with fishing crews among the first to be vaccinated.
The 960 doses arrived on 12th August and are being rolled out as part of the ongoing vaccination programme which began in February. On 15th August, 354 vaccines from the new batch were administered to predominantly Indonesian and Peruvian crew from vessels which have been fishing in Falklands waters, using temporary vaccination stations at the Lighthouse Seafarers Mission.
‘The arrival of this batch means we can continue to immunise the vast majority of our adult population, which continues to be an incredible achievement, and one that we are extremely grateful for. I would like to give a heartfelt thank you, again, to all of the people who have continued to come together and pull out all of the stops to make the vaccination programme such a success,’ said Chief Medical Officer, Dr Beccy Edwards.
A further 180 fishermen will also be vaccinated next weekend. The new batch will also be used for people in the local population who have recently turned 18 or people who were eligible earlier in the year but were unable to have their vaccination at that time.
‘It is fantastic news that we have been able to secure more vaccines for the Islands. Fishing is, of course, vastly important to our economy; however, it is also crucial that we protect as many people as possible from this disease,’ commented MLA Leona Roberts.
‘Having enough vaccines to protect crew members will hopefully help to put their loved ones’ minds at rest, particularly given how far they are from home. Many have been away from their families for 1-2 years due to their inability to travel home due to the pandemic, but hopefully these vaccinations will help them to return back to their home countries before too long. I also want to recognise, again, the work that has been done so far by the KEMH; the vaccination programme is an incredible feat and I know that I speak for the whole of the community when I express my appreciation to all involved.’
Speaking on behalf of the Falkland Islands Fishing Companies Association, James Bates said that a great deal of effort went into securing the vaccines and getting them to the Falkland Islands.
‘The industry is hugely grateful to the UK Government, FIG, the MoD, the staff involved at KEMH, in particular to Jenny Cockwell and the nursing staff for giving up their weekends to carry out the jabs, and to the Lighthouse Seafarers Mission, all of whom played pivotal roles in the facilitation of the vaccine programme,’ he said, adding that local logistical challenges were quickly overcame, and the day progressed very smoothly and successfully. He confirmed that it has been a huge pleasure to be a part of this and to witness the buzz, atmosphere and enthusiasm coming from the crewmen, all of whom seemed very happy to be in Stanley to receive their jabs.
Image: Falkland Islands Fishing Companies Association