A new shipment of 2,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine arrived in the territory on Oct. 7. (File photo: DANA KAMPA)

An additional 2,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine arrived in the territory on Oct. 7 from the United Kingdom, ending the brief gap in availability from when the last batch expired at the end of September, Health and Social Development Minister Carvin Malone announced.

The minister said this batch has a longer shelf life than previous batches, and the doses won’t expire until Jan. 31.

He and Governor John Rankin encouraged everyone to get vaccinated.

“Some 60 percent of the BVI’s population have received at least one dose of vaccination, and just over 50 percent have been double vaccinated,” Mr. Rankin said on Oct. 7. “That’s good, but we know more is required to allow the territory to be safe and to safely reopen — and get back to as normal as we can be.”

Mr. Malone also said last week that the government had placed orders for the purchase of sub-zero storage containers for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. He said orders are also being placed for 40 field hospital beds to prepare for any spikes in cases in the territory.

He did not say when he expected the storage equipment to arrive, but he noted that the UK has pledged to help provide doses of Pfizer once it does.

The United States Food and Drug Administration recently gave authorisation for emergency use of the Pfizer vaccine for ages 12 and up.

Mr. Malone said the government aims eventually to provide vaccines for all eligible school-aged children.

Leaders will also be deliberating this week whether curfew and crowd-size regulations can be eased or eliminated altogether, he added.

But he said these decisions depend on vaccination rates.

“We will open in a measured way,” Mr. Malone said.

Digital platform

On Oct. 11, government also launched the BVIDigiCert online platform, which is designed to ease the process of obtaining verification of vaccination status.

Acting Chief Medical Officer Dr. Ronald Georges said that the free platform should give residents easy access to their digital Covid-19 vaccine certificates any time and any place, as well as helping to reduce fraud.

He said the certificates will be valid for six months and renewable thereafter.

Users can apply for vaccine authorisation letters for travel online, Dr. Georges said, adding that applicants will need their vaccination cards and passports to create user accounts.

“We wanted to streamline the process and make it easier for persons who need authorisation letters,” he said.