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 will be used in the Cayman Islands through assistance provided by the United Kingdom to the UKOTs.
How effective and safe is this COVID-19 vaccine?
The vaccine offers up to 95% protection against the SARS-CoV-2 virus. It is important to note that before a vaccine is shown to be safe and effective, numerous steps need to be achieved before mass distribution.
The safety and immunogenicity of the Pfizer and BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine have been 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 have taken 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%.
Will I Get Side Effects With The COVID-19 Vaccine?
Who Can Get The Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine?
The vaccine has been trialled in adults and anyone over the age of 16 will be eligible. There may be some circumstances in which children may be given the vaccine, for example if they are in a medical high risk group.
Individuals with a history of anaphylaxis to food, an identified drug or vaccine, or an insect sting can receive any COVID-19 vaccine, as long as they are not known to be allergic to component (excipient) of the vaccine. The British Society for Allergy and Clinical Immunology (BSACI) has advised that individuals with a history of immediate onset-anaphylaxis to multiple classes of drugs or an unexplained anaphylaxis should not be vaccinated with the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.
When Can I Get The COVID-19 Vaccine?
Effective Monday 12th April 2021, anyone over the age of 16 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 more so as not to incorrectly attribute potential adverse events rather than any potential for interaction. 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 sick as the vaccines are 95% effective, therefore there is a small chance that if you are exposed to COVID-19, you might get sick.
It is also possible to get sick with COVID-19 a few weeks after the vaccination if you have been exposed to the virus. 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 infection 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. More information about this aspect will come out when the scientists have had more time to study the effects of vaccinations of large numbers of people. The best thing to do to protect the community is to take the vaccine.
How Long Is The Duration Of Protection?
Published data from Pfizer says that short term efficacy between dose one and two is 52.4%. The UK’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation has said that short-term efficacy from the first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is calculated at around 90%. Immunity provided by the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine reaches its full effect seven days after the second dose. However, long term efficacy is unknown.
We will know how long the immunity produced by the vaccine lasts as more data is collected.
However, it is too early to know if whether this is a one-off injection or an annual one, like that for the ‘flu.
Will We Still Need To Wear Masks And Practice Physical Distancing Once Vaccinated Where These Are Mandated?
The wearing of masks and practising of physical distancing will be required until a large proportion of the population is vaccinated and we are sure the vaccine provides long-term protection. Herd immunity is achieved when a sufficient proportion of the population is made non-infectious through vaccination so that the likelihood of an infectious individual transmitting to a susceptible individual is very low. 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?
As of March 22 2021, quarantine requirements for vaccinated travellers arriving into the Cayman Islands have reduced from 14 days to 10 days, with an exit test on day 11.
To be considered fully vaccinated, you must:
- Have been vaccinated against COVID-19 at least 14 days before arrival to the Cayman Islands (or prior to entering quarantine if you are an occupant).
- Have completed a full course of one of the following vaccines approved by major public health organisations:
- Johnson & Johnson
In order to qualify for the reduced quarantine period travellers will be required to present their original vaccine certificate for authentication upon arrival.
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?
The chances that you will get COVID-19 are greatly reduced if you take the vaccine, as the vaccine has been shown to be 95% effective in preventing the vaccinated person from becoming infected. The fewer people who get infected with COVID-19 the less the disease is able to spread. It is also worth noting that people who are vaccinated but still contract COVID-19 have much less severe effects from the disease.
Does The Cayman Islands Have A COVID-19 Vaccination Programme?
Yes, the vaccination programme is comprised of three vaccination stages in which healthcare and frontline workers will be the first group to be vaccinated. Details are available on www.gov.ky/coronavirus
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 65% of the total population should be vaccinated. This is approximately 44,200 people.
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 will have the information as soon as it becomes available.
What is in the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine?
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 that have been seen in the United Kingdom (and elsewhere) and South Africa towards the end of 2020?
It is very reassuring that evidence suggests the current vaccines will protect against these new variants. 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 they make 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 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.