Local health providers are focused on distributing all of the 2,270 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine sent to the territory each week.
So far, 12,114 people have had the first dose of either the Pfizer or the Moderna vaccine and 5,164 have received the two shots required for effectiveness, according to Monife Stout, territory immunization director for the V.I. Health Department.
It takes a couple of weeks after receiving two shots to be protected from the virus. Individuals who have the vaccines’ protection should not suffer symptoms or get sick but can transmit COVID-19 to others who are not vaccinated.
The territory has seen a slight increase in the number of doses issued from the manufacturers each week. According to Stout, 1,170 doses of the Pfizer vaccine and 1,100 doses of the Moderna vaccine are received weekly. The Moderna vaccines are delivered directly to DOH, medical offices and pharmacies by the manufacturer. The Pfizer doses are delivered with a “hub-spoke” system – Pfizer ships vaccines to a regional base, or hub, with ultracold storage, and then vaccines are directed out in a radius to select clinical health care entities to be administered.
Unfortunately, due to recent winter storms on the mainland, delays in shipping are expected everywhere in the near future.
According to the DOH website, the territory is in Phase 1B of distribution which includes government employees, Water and Power Authority workers, U.S. Postal employees, grocery store workers, adults 65 and older, people aged 16 to 64 with recognized underlying conditions. (See the DOH site for a complete list of those eligible and providers.)
Most providers slide between phases depending on the number of doses available and if appointments have been missed.
“There is no hard start or stop for each phase, rather one flows into another and may sometimes run concurrently as vaccines are available and the rate of vaccinations conducted,” Stout wrote to the Source.
At the end of January, the Centers for Disease and Control reported that 17,075 doses had been received by DOH, but due to delays in tracking, it appeared the Virgin Islands suffered slow distribution. Currently, the numbers are more in line and all of the vaccines are getting into arms, Stout said.
The Health Department’s Feb. 18 statistics pin 86 active cases and 25 deaths in the territory. St. Croix has 23 active cases, up one from the day before and St. Thomas reported 60 active cases, the same as Feb. 18, but an increase of 11 from Feb. 17. St. John had three active infections.
Nationally, about 12 percent of the population has received at least one shot and around four percent are fully vaccinated. The rate of infection is declining, according to ABC and NBS news. Almost 500,000 people in the U.S. have died from the disease.
At a town hall forum this week, President Joseph R. Biden said he believes that a year from now, “there will be significantly fewer people” observing social distancing and wearing masks.