Basseterre, St. Kitts, March 17, 2021 (SKNIS): St. Kitts and Nevis’ COVID-19 Vaccination Programme is in its fourth week with a little over 20 percent of the population receiving the jab to date. The vaccine is administered free of cost to the population. However, residents are urged to step up, roll up their sleeves, and get vaccinated to avoid paying a high price.

“The price you will pay is in getting severely [ill] or even losing your life,” Dr. Cameron Wilkinson, Medical Chief of Staff of the Joseph N. France General Hospital said on the March 16 edition of the television programme Leadership Matters.

As global travel picks up, officials expect an increase in the number of persons coming to St. Kitts and Nevis for tourism-related purposes. As such, the government is pushing for 70 percent of the population to be vaccinated before June 2021, to reduce the risk of serious illness, hospitalizations or deaths as a result of COVID-19.

The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, currently being administered in the twin-island federation, has proven effective at reducing severe illness and death from the novel coronavirus.

“If you choose not to take the vaccine, once the country is opened up the virus is going to come and the persons who are vulnerable – and it will be the persons who are not vaccinated – those are the ones who will be suffering,” the medical chief of staff said. “My advice to anyone who is out there is that they should go forward and take the vaccine at this point in time when it is free and when you know that it can save your life.”

Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis, Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris, said that time is of the essence.

“One should not delay because lives and livelihoods are in fact at stake,” Dr. Harris stated.

He encouraged everyone to do his or her part and take a jab while encouraging others in their circle to follow suit. The prime minister also commended the various businesses and organizations that have hosted or is hosting educational sessions about the COVID-19 vaccines, it’s safety and efficacy.

“At stake is the recovery of our country which we have to take very seriously,” Dr. Harris said.