The COVID-19 vaccines were developed within a year. Is that safe?
Yes it is safe. Because the COVID-19 pandemic has had such an impact on a global level, the development of COVID-19 vaccines was prioritized. The development of the COVID-19 vaccine is going fast for several reasons:
The COVID-19 virus is similar to the SARS virus that caused an epidemic in 2003 so some knowledge was already available.
Different stakeholders are working on the development simultaneously and shared their knowledge.
Different stages of the trials are done simultaneously instead of sequentially. However, none of the required steps can be skipped in any trial or approval process.
Because COVID-19 vaccines are prioritized, time, money and manpower were made available immediately. For other vaccines, medical researchers often must wait for sufficient funding and volunteers in order to perform a new stage in the trial.
By now, millions of people from various characteristics and cultural groups have been vaccinated worldwide and no new safety concerns have occurred.
Can the COVID-19 vaccine change my DNA?
An mRNA vaccine or vector vaccine cannot change your genes or change anything in your body’s DNA in any way. The mRNA in the vaccine is only a recipe for the spike protein, it has no ability to do anything else than give instructions to produce the spike protein. After that, they are broken down by your body in a natural way and the antibodies that were produced by your body will stay.
COVID-19 vaccination on Sint Maarten
Do I need to pay for the vaccine?
No, it is free for everyone residing on Dutch Sint Maarten.
Is it mandatory to get the COVID-19 vaccine?
No, it is not mandatory to get the COVID-19 vaccine. It is highly recommended to get the COVID-19 vaccine once it is made available.
By getting vaccinated you not only protect yourself but also your friends, family, and other persons you care about from getting sick from COVID-19.
This means that fewer people get severely ill, fewer people die, the healthcare system is less burdened, and fewer people must stay home from work or school.
Which vaccine will be distributed on Sint Maarten?
Sint Maarten will receive the first batch of vaccines in mid-February 2021. This is the BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine. Limited doses of vaccines are currently available. It is expected that later in 2021 the availability will increase substantially. In later batches, we might receive other brands of vaccines.
The brand and quantity of vaccines, including timelines for distribution, depending on the policy of the Dutch government.
Any vaccine is approved only after being tested through clinical trials under strict international regulations and meeting all requirements. Only approved vaccines will be distributed and administered to the population.
Who will get the vaccine first?
The availability of vaccines is limited at this time so they cannot be offered to all at once. The advice of the Health Council in the Netherlands is to prioritize persons at increased risk of spreading COVID-19 and persons with increased risk of getting severely ill when they get COVID-19.
The Minister of VSA has defined the priority groups according to this advice.
In the first round of vaccination, the following groups will be offered the vaccine:
Persons of age 60 years or older with or without underlying conditions
In later phases the vaccine will be offered to everyone living on the island, including persons who are not officially registered.
How can I register for the vaccine?
All WYCCF employees with direct client contact will be offered the covid-19 vaccine in the first round, which starts from the middle of February. You will be offered an appointment at our own location (Sint Martin’s Home) to receive the vaccine. Employees without direct client contact will be vaccinated in the second round, expected to start in April.
What happens during my vaccination appointment?
You go the appointed location at the appointed time and date
You will be welcomed and the information from your registration is checked
You will have to show an ID to check that your name and date of birth match with the registration. You will not be checked for resident documents.
You will be asked to sign a consent form for receiving the vaccine and one for sharing information with health institutions for monitoring purposes. Your information will not be shared with immigration.
You receive the vaccine
You will stay in an observation room for 15 min
You receive an appointment for the second vaccination
You are thanked and can go home
Can vaccinated persons let go of the preventive COVID-19 measures?
No. Now we know that the vaccines are very effective in protecting against getting severely ill from COVID-19, but we do not know to what extent it protects you from getting infected with COVID-19 and spreading it to others. The first goal is to reduce severe illness and death due to COVID-19 and in this way reduce the burden on the healthcare system.
Even though the first results of the effect of the Covid-19 on the spread of the virus look very promising, more research about the effectiveness against getting and spreading COVID-19 is being done and will be shared as soon as possible. Also, to obtain herd immunity, at least 70% of the population needs to be fully vaccinated. This will take a few months.
All preventive COVID-19 measures will have to stay in place on the individual level as well as on the community level.