COVID-19 Vaccines in the Cayman Islands
We know you might be thinking about the COVID-19 vaccine and what that means for you and your family. We also understand that some people may be concerned about getting vaccinated with a COVID-19 vaccine. It’s important to note that vaccination is not mandatory for anyone. This information has been compiled to give you all the important information you may need to know about the COVID-19 vaccination programme for the Cayman Islands.
Most people know that vaccines typically require years of research and testing before reaching the clinic. However, 2020 has been a year of unprecedented happenings and scientists have gone hard to work to help stop the pandemic. Although there has been a lot of momentum to develop a vaccine as quickly as possible, you should know that routine processes and procedures remain in place to ensure the safety of any vaccine that is authorized or approved for use. Safety is always a top priority.
Here you will find FAQs to see where you fit in when it comes to the roll-out of a COVID-19 vaccine. These may also address some of your concerns.
On 2nd December 2020, the United Kingdom became the first country in the world to approve the Pfizer/BioNTech SARS-CoV-2 vaccine, paving the way for mass vaccination. As a UK Overseas Territory (UKOT), the Cayman Islands received the first batch of these vaccines on 5th January 2021 and commenced the COVID-19 National Vaccination programme shortly thereafter.
Read the FAQs below or click the links to skip to the relevant question:
About COVID-19 Vaccines
About the Pfizer/BioNTech Vaccine
About The National Vaccine Programme in the Cayman Islands
Can i Get the Vaccine If...?
Will the COVID-19 Vaccine...?
Is there a vaccine against COVID-19?
Yes, the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is the first vaccine approved by the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA). This vaccine is used in Cayman Islands through assistance provided by the United Kingdom to the UKOTs.
How effective and safe is this COVID-19 vaccine?
The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine offers up to 95% protection against COVID-19 disease from the original strain of SARS-CoV-2 virus. Following the emergence of the Delta variant, latest data suggest that the vaccine offers lower protection against this strain with 80% protection against symptomatic disease. However, protection against serious illness and death is good where the Pfizer-BioNtech, AstraZeneca and Moderna vaccines reduce the risk of death by 85%.
It is important to note that before a vaccine is shown to be safe and effective, numerous steps needed to be achieved before mass distribution. Additionally, the MHRA and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the United States continue to do continuous and intense safety monitoring.
The safety and immunogenicity of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine were evaluated in clinical trials in six countries: the USA, Germany, Brazil, Argentina, South Africa and Turkey.
The clinical trials looked at the safety and immunogenicity of the vaccine in different age groups and at different dose levels. Over 43,500 participants took part in the clinical trials of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.
Half of the participants received the COVID-19 vaccine and the other half received a placebo vaccine. Results from phase three clinical trials suggest that the vaccine can prevent 95% of vaccinated adults from getting COVID-19 disease and that the vaccine works equally well in people in different age groups, races and ethnicities. The observed efficacy in adults over 65 years of age was over 94%.
Following an additional study in aged 12-15 years, which generated additional safety and efficacy data, the approval was extended to those in this age group in June 2021.
The vaccine is now approved by the (MHRA) for use in people 12 years old and over, and is also approved by the USA’s Food and Drug Administration for use in people aged 16 and over. The FDA continues its emergency use authorisation for 12-15 year-olds.
Will I Get Side Effects With The COVID-19 Vaccine?
With the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, a number of people have got some local pain around the injection site. The most common other events were headache, muscle aches and pain, chills, , a raised temperature and possible diarrhoea. More people experience side effects after the second dose than after the first dose but for those who experience side effects, these usually begin soon after receiving a vaccine and may last 1-2 days
With the AstraZeneca vaccine, mild pain and tenderness were common. Short lived symptoms of headache and tiredness, muscle aches, feeling generally unwell, a raised temperature and chills, and joint pain and nausea were also experienced.
Serious adverse events after COVID-19 vaccination are uncommon but may occur. These include:
- Approximately 2 to 5 people per million vaccinated in the USA)
- Thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS), or blood clots with low platelets, after Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen (J&J) and AstraZeneca (AZ) COVID-19 vaccination.
- As of Sept 15, 2021, there has been 47 confirmed reports out of 14.7 million doses given in the USA with J&J and in the UK, as of June 28, 2021, around 1 case has been reported for every 50,000 first doses of AZ in persons under 50 years of age
- Reports of myocarditis and pericarditis, particularly in young males, after mRNA COVID-19 vaccination such as (Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna).
- As of Sept 15, 2021, there has been 890 confirmed reports of myocarditis or pericarditis. Most patients with myocarditis or pericarditis who received care responded well to medicine and rest and felt better quickly.
Who Can Get The Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine?
Anyone over the age of 12 is eligible to receive the vaccine. There may be some circumstances in which children below 12 years of age may be given the vaccine, for example if they are in a medical high risk group.
The MHRA is no longer advising that individuals with a history of anaphylaxis to any vaccine, medicine or food do not get the vaccine. Anyone with a previous history of allergic reactions to the ingredients of the vaccine should not receive it, but those with any other allergies (such as a food or penicillin allergy) can have the vaccine.
Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding can have the vaccine.
Individuals who are immunosuppressed or have, for example, HIV infection (regardless of CD4 count) should be vaccinated.
People who have health conditions such as heart disease, lung or kidney disease should be vaccinated as COVID-19 can worsen the disease.
When Can I Get The COVID-19 Vaccine?
Anyone over the age of 12 years old in the Cayman Islands may receive the vaccine at any time during the opening hours on the schedule. This is true for dose one and dose two.
The schedule is available here.
All persons must present photo identification to show their date of birth.
You do not need to provide identification to demonstrate that you are ordinarily or legally resident in the Cayman Islands.
Persons who have received their first dose are reminded to get their second dose 21 days later or no longer than 12 weeks after the first dose. You must bring your vaccination card reflecting your first dose to your second dose.
Do not laminate your vaccination card at any time.
Medical professionals will be visiting healthcare and institutional facilities to ensure that those who cannot visit clinics can opt to receive the vaccine.
If somebody has been unable to attend the clinics they should call the 'Flu Hotline on 1-800-534-8600 or 345-925-6327 or their local HSA District Health Centre to arrange for a vaccine to be given in their home.
How Will The COVID-19 Vaccine Be Administered?
The Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine will be administered by intramuscular (IM) injection, similar to the ‘flu shot.
How Can A Safe COVID-19 Vaccine Be Made So Quickly?
Although vaccine development typically takes many years, scientists had already begun research for coronavirus vaccines during previous outbreaks caused by related coronaviruses such as SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) and MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome). That earlier research provided a head start for rapid development of vaccines to protect against infection with the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
They have also overlapped different stages of the process, such that manufacturing was already well underway whilst the clinical trials were still ongoing; additionally, information was provided to many regulators on a rolling basis, rather than all at once at the end of the trial periods.
Can Other Vaccines, Including Flu Vaccines, Be Administered At The Same Time As The COVID-19 Vaccines?
COVID- 19 vaccines should not be routinely offered at the same time as other vaccines. Scheduling of COVID-19 vaccine and other vaccines should ideally be separated by an interval of at least fourteen (14) days. This is done, not so much because of any potential interaction between one vaccine and another; rather it is mainly done so that if there are any adverse events the health professionals can correctly attribute them to one vaccine. Public Health also recommends waiting a month for some vaccines, such as Hepatitis B.
Once I Get Vaccinated, Can I Still Get Sick?
It is possible you could still get COVID-19 if you’re exposed to the virus. However, those who have been vaccinated are must less likely to get severely sick or require hospitalisation.
It takes a few weeks to build an immune response after being vaccinated. So it's possible that someone could be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 and get sick just before or just after vaccination.
Can The COVID-19 Virus Still Be Transmitted From Someone Who Has Received The Vaccine But Remains Asymptomatic?
We believe that this might be possible i.e. someone might have had a proper course of the vaccine and be protected themselves, but still might be able to transmit the infection to someone else. This is because the inside of the body is protected against an infection but the virus might still be able to survive in the upper airways. However, a person who does not have symptoms is also not coughing and sneezing which very much reduces the possibility of transmission. The best thing to do to protect the community is to take the vaccine and practice preventative measures such as the wearing of masks and physical distancing
How Long Is The Duration Of Protection?
Current research indicates the waning of vaccine effectiveness against symptomatic disease with both the Pfizer/BioNTech and AstraZeneca vaccines from approximately 10 weeks after the second dose. This is most evident in older adults. Pfizer has also reported a decline from 96% to 84% four months after the second dose.
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has advised that a booster programme should be prioritised for those who are most vulnerable to serious COVID-19 infection and that those with a seriously impaired immune response should have a third dose.
Currently, in the Cayman Islands, persons who are considered severely at risk are being called to receive their third dose of the Pfizer/ BioNTech vaccine. More information on the Booster Programme for adults above the age of 50 or persons clinically compromised is forthcoming.
Will We Still Need To Wear Masks And Practice Physical Distancing Once Vaccinated Where These Are Mandated?
According to the latest Control And Management of COVID-19 Regulations, 2021, the wearing of masks and practising of physical distancing is required in all indoor spaces where you cannot or are not socially distancing. Learn more about the rules here. Frequent hand washing and respiratory etiquette are essential in stopping the spread.
I’ve received a full course of vaccination against COVID-19, do I still need to quarantine when I return from travel?
The Control of Covid-19 (No. 2) (Amendment) Regulations, 2021 provide for a shorter quarantine period for some fully vaccinated incoming travellers.
To qualify for 5 day quarantine:
- Vaccination courses must have been completed at least two weeks prior to arriving in the Cayman Islands and must be from the list of vaccines approved by the Chief Medical Officer (currently AstraZeneca, Janssen, Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech)
- Vaccinations must be securely verifiable according to international standards approved by the Medical Officer of Health. At present, the following conditions must be met in order for the vaccination course to be considered verified:
- The incoming traveller must have been fully vaccinated by the Cayman Islands Health Services Authority at least two weeks before return arrival to the Cayman Islands.
- The incoming traveller must demonstrate completion of their vaccination course at least two weeks before arrival by real-time logging into the U.K. National Health Service application and showing this to the Customs & Border Control (CBC) officer processing their entry. The NHS application is considered trusted and secure technology.
- Paper documentation from the NHS might be accepted as verifiable evidence if determined valid by the CBC officer processing entry.
- Issuers who use SMART Health Cards and are a part of the CommonTrust Network. This includes North American issuers, such as:
- Walmart Pharmacy
- Sam's Club Pharmacy
- State of California
- State of Louisiana
- UC San Diego Health
- CVS Health
- UC Health
- Vaccination records from the European Union Member States and other countries that meet the EU Digital COVID Certificate standard.
Those who are vaccinated, but vaccination certificate cannot be securely verified, qualify for 10 day quarantine.
You can read more about this here.
Well what’s the point of taking the vaccine if I can still get COVID-19 and still transmit it?
While it is possible for you to contract COVID-19 even after being fully vaccinated, the effects are likely to be much less severe compared to those in unvaccinated persons. The greatest risk of transmission is among unvaccinated people who are much more likely to get infected, and therefore transmit the virus.
Does The Cayman Islands Have A COVID-19 Vaccination Programme?
Yes. The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is being administered by the Public Health Department. It is available to all persons 12 years old and older. Details are available here
Will The COVID-19 Vaccine Be Compulsory?
No, it is not compulsory but strongly encouraged.
How Much Does It Cost To Get Vaccinated?
The Government is providing the vaccine without a charge through the Public Health department.
How Many People In The Cayman Islands Will Need To Get Vaccinated To Protect Everyone?
We are aiming that at least 80% of the total population should be vaccinated.
Where Do I Get The COVID-19 Vaccine?
Please visit the Public Health website, to learn where you can get your COVID-19 vaccine. This site has the latest vaccination clinic schedule.
What is in the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine?
In simple terms, the vaccine contains the messenger RiboNucleic Acid (the mRNA), which is the active ingredient, along with lipids (fatty substances) that protect the mRNA; salts that help to balance the acidity in your body, and sugar (sucrose), which helps the molecules maintain their shape during freezing. This is the active substance.
Here is the technical list of ingredients:
The COVID-19 mRNA Vaccine BNT162b2 contains:
- the active substance, which is BNT162b2 RNA.
Each dose is 0.3 mL with 30 micrograms mRNA.
- the vaccine contains polyethylene glycol/macrogol (PEG) as part of ALC-0159
The other ingredients are:
- ALC-0315 = (4-hydroxybutyl)azanediyl)bis(hexane-6,1-diyl)bis(2-hexyldecanoate)
- ALC-0159 = 2[(polyethylene glycol)-2000]-N,N-ditetradecylacetamide
- potassium chloride
- potassium dihydrogen phosphate
- sodium chloride
- disodium hydrogen phosphate dihydrate
The vaccine does not contain eggs, preservatives, mercury or antibiotics.
The Pfizer/BioNTech is an mRNA vaccine. What does that mean?
- inactivated virus (like for polio or rabies or influenza);
- protein based (e.g. for hepatitis B or whooping cough);
- viral vector (which includes the AstraZeneca vaccine for COVID-19 and is a similar technology to that for smallpox and Ebola);
- and the mRNA type. mRNA stands for ‘messenger RiboNucleic Acid’. The mRNA type of vaccine transports the genetic sequence for the spike protein (from the surface of the SARS-CoV-2 virus) into our own cells. Our cells then produce the spike proteins which induce an immune response. This does not cause COVID-19 but means that if the body is exposed to the virus, the immune system would recognise and attack the virus.
How Many Doses Do You Need Of This COVID-19 Vaccination?
The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine requires two doses separated by an interval of 21 days for full protection. You will get full protection from this vaccine usually 1–2 weeks after getting your second dose. When you get the vaccine, you will be advised when you need to come back for your second dose.
Can the second dose be given sooner than 21 days?
The Pfizer BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine should not be given less than 19 days after the first dose. Ideally, the interval between doses should be 21 days.
I’m unable to receive the 2nd dose on day 21, what is the window between shots?
The second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine may be given up to twelve weeks after the first dose following guidance from the UK’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation. If an interval longer than the recommended interval is left between doses, the second dose should still be given. The course will not need to be restarted.
I’m pregnant, can I get the COVID-19 vaccine?
There is no known risk associated with giving inactivated, recombinant viral or bacterial vaccines or toxoids during pregnancy or whilst breast-feeding (Kroger et al., 2013). Since inactivated vaccines cannot replicate, they cannot cause infection in either the mother or the fetus. Although AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine contains a live adenovirus vector, this virus is not replicating so will not cause infection in the mother or the fetus. As with most pharmaceutical products, large clinical trials of COVID-19 vaccine in pregnancy have not been carried out.
Developmental and reproductivity testing of the Pfizer BioNTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca vaccines in animals have not raised any concerns. Adenovirus vectors, similar to those used in the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, have been widely used to vaccinate women against Ebola without raising any concern; formal trials of these vaccines in pregnancy are due to proceed.
Although clinical trials on the use of COVID-19 vaccines during pregnancy are not advanced, the available data do not indicate any harm to pregnancy. JCVI has therefore advised that women who are pregnant should be offered vaccination at the same time as non-pregnant women, based on their age and clinical risk group.
There is now extensive post-marketing experience of the use of the Pfizer BioNTech and Moderna vaccines in the USA with no safety signals so far. These vaccines are therefore the preferred vaccines to offer to pregnant women.
Clinicians should discuss the risks and benefits of vaccination with the woman, who should be told about the limited evidence of safety for the vaccine in pregnancy.
What about children?
The Chief Medical Officer, Dr John Lee, has confirmed the green light has been given for those aged 12 to 15 years of age to get vaccinated against COVID-19 with the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. The public is encouraged to check the HSA’s website for more details of the availability of vaccination clinics: www.hsa.ky
I’m immunocompromised. Can I get the COVID-19 vaccine?
Yes. Individuals who are immunosuppressed or have, for example, HIV infection (regardless of CD4 count) should be given COVID-19 vaccine.
I’m healthy, why should I get vaccinated?
COVID-19 can either make you have a sniffle or serious, life-threatening complications; therefore, there is no way to know how COVID-19 will affect you. If you get sick, you could spread the disease to friends, family, and others around you. Getting vaccinated helps towards stopping the pandemic so we can open our borders fully and strengthen our economy.
The Cayman Islands can then go back to a level of normalcy without the fear of getting sick.
Will the COVID-19 vaccine give me COVID-19?
No, the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine does not have any viable virus particles so the vaccine cannot cause disease. The Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine is an mRNA (messenger ribonucleic acid) vaccine which uses the genetic sequence for the spike protein from the surface of the SARS-CoV-2 virus to enable it to be transported into the cells of the body. The cells then produce the spike proteins which allow our immune system to produce antibodies and activate T-cells to respond to any future encounter.
This does not cause COVID-19 but means that if the body is exposed to the virus, the immune system would recognise and attack the virus.
I heard that the COVID-19 vaccines contain microchips, is this true?
The COVID-19 vaccines do not contain microchips or any electronics.
I have had COVID-19 already, do I need to get vaccinated?
Yes. Due to the life-threatening complications associated with COVID-19 and known cases of re-infection, you are encouraged to get the COVID-19 vaccine even if you had been sick with COVID-19 and have recovered, leaving at least four weeks from the time of infection.
At this time, experts do not know how long someone is protected from getting sick again after recovering from COVID-19. The immunity someone gains from having an infection, called natural immunity, varies from person to person. Some early evidence suggests natural immunity may not last very long.
Will the vaccine make me infertile?
If you are considering pregnancy soon, accepting the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as it is available to you is a great way to ensure that you — and your pregnancy — are protected. COVID-19 vaccination is not believed to affect future fertility.
Will The Vaccine Protect Me Against The New Variants such as the Delta Variant?
It is very reassuring that evidence suggests the current vaccines will provide a good degree of protection against serious illness and deaths (for example from the Delta variant with the Astra-Zeneca vaccine giving an estimated 60% protection and Pfizer-BioNTech 88% protection). Plasma taken from people who have been vaccinated has been shown to ‘neutralise’ these mutations.
Here is summary of the benefits of COVID-19 vaccination based on what we currently know. The Ministry of Health along with Public will continuously update their information as we learn more.
COVID-19 vaccination will help keep you from getting COVID-19
- A vaccine will be authorized or approved only if it makes it substantially less likely you’ll get COVID-19
- Being vaccinated will help you protect those you love and care about
COVID-19 vaccination will be a safer way to help build protection
- COVID-19 can have serious, life-threatening complications, and there is no way to know how COVID-19 will affect you. And if you get sick, you could spread the disease to friends, family, and others around you.
- Clinical trials of COVID-19 vaccines must first show they are safe and effective before any vaccine can be authorized or approved for use. The known and potential benefits of a COVID-19 vaccine must outweigh the known and potential risks of the vaccine for use.
COVID-19 vaccination will be an important tool to help stop the pandemic
- The vaccine will help us to re-open borders and better help the economy to recover
- Vaccines may help stop the spread of disease
Vaccine Myths and Facts
Still have Questions?
Visit our general COVID-19 FAQs.