27 November 2020
I am very pleased to welcome you to this Press Conference and to announce details of the Government’s COVID-19 vaccination programme.
This is a significant milestone for our Island and one that I know we have waited for with great anticipation.
Over the past months, we have been working closely with the UK Department of Health and Social Care, and Public Health England, to ensure the delivery of a safe COVID-19 vaccine as soon as it becomes available.
As we have already stated, it is possible that a vaccine might be available at the end of this year, in small amounts, to those who are at highest risk.
As we move into 2021 greater amounts should become available. And we are ready to receive and deliver the vaccine to Islanders when that happens.
There are two vaccines on our immediate horizon - the Pfizer vaccine and the Astra Zeneca (Oxford) vaccine - which, if approved - we are preparing to deploy.
Additional vaccines will become available in due course.
Dr Muscat and Head of the COVID-19 Vaccine Delivery, Becky Sherrington, will talk about the vaccines and their development in more detail shortly.
The UK government has secured early access to 355 million vaccine doses through agreements with seven separate vaccine developers, giving the UK the best chance of securing a safe and effective vaccine at the quickest speed. Our vaccine delivery programme is aligned to theirs and we will receive the vaccine as quickly as possible when it is distributed throughout the UK and Channel Islands.
The UK Government has given the vaccine to Crown Dependencies free of charge, so the vaccine will be free to all Islanders.
Our COVID-19 Vaccination Centre will be based at Fort Regent’s Queen’s Hall to allow the vaccine to be given to large numbers of people and at speed, without disrupting other healthcare services.
And I want to thank all the users of the Queen’s Hall who have been relocated for their patience and cooperation while this important work is undertaken.
The Minister for Health and Social Services will talk in more detail about this delivery model shortly.
The arrival of a vaccine is a significant milestone in our COVID winter strategy.
And it is a huge step forward in our fight against Coronavirus both locally and globally.
An effective vaccine will be the best way to protect the most vulnerable from the virus and is the biggest breakthrough since the pandemic began.
As large numbers of people from at-risk groups are given a vaccine, we will be able to examine the impact on infection rates.
If successful, this should - in time - lead to a substantial reassessment of current restrictions.
But the vaccine is not a panacea. It does not mean that we can yet begin to ease those restrictions.
We are STILL seeing clusters of cases and increasing numbers of those affected.
So please, share this good news, but continue to remain responsible and vigilant, as we do all we can to protect our community.
This is a significant milestone for our Health Service, our Government and our community.
Despite this being a huge step forward, we all need to remain vigilant in adhering to public health guidance.
This has been brought ever more to our attention because of the increase in cases, and the impact on individuals, schools and families following a private event which took place in a hospitality setting.
We must all work together, more so than ever before, to navigate the added risks that winter brings.
If we do so, by adhering to public health guidance and taking the vaccine when it is offered, then I sincerely believe that our Island will be in a better, stronger and healthier position when spring arrives.
If you want to learn more about our ongoing plans to combat COVID-19, and ask questions of myself, the Minister for Health and Social Services, and the Minister for Home Affairs, please join us from 7pm this evening on all Government social media channels and YouTube, for the final Government Plan public event.