St. Maarten received first batch of vaccines Friday

PHILIPSBURG - St. Maarten received an undisclosed number of BioNTech/Pfizer coronavirus COVID-19 vaccines from the Netherlands on Friday afternoon, the first of several shipments to the country.

The vaccines arrived on Royal Dutch Airlines KLM flight 729, which touched down at Princess Juliana International Airport (PJIA) at 3:37pm Friday. On board were an undisclosed number of vaccines destined for St. Maarten, as well as some 3,100 Moderna vaccines for Saba and St. Eustatius.

Unlike other Dutch Caribbean islands, St. Maarten officials have not disclosed the number of vaccines that have arrived in this first batch. Minister of Public Health, Social Development and Labor VSA Richard Panneflek declined to comment on the number of vaccines to be received on Wednesday, February 17, citing “security reasons” surrounding vaccine transport and storage.

Aruba has disclosed that it received almost 12,000 vaccines on Tuesday, while Bonaire received about 4,000 that same day. On Friday, Saba received 1,500 vaccines and St. Eustatius some 1,600.

The Daily Herald understands that St. Maarten is to receive enough BioNTech/Pfizer vaccines for the first two priority groups: healthcare professionals and those above 60 years old. These two groups total almost 18,000 people. The vaccines are to arrive in multiple shipments.

Vaccinations will begin today, Monday, with staff of St. Maarten Medical Center (SMMC) and White and Yellow Cross Care Foundation (WYCCF) being first-up.

The first vaccinations will be aired live on government’s Facebook page. Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs, Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transport and Telecommunication (TEATT) Ludmila de Weever, and Collective Prevention Services (CPS) head Eva Lista-de Weever are scheduled to be there.

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