At the start of the business day on Wednesday, April 29, the BVI was a few dozen jabs short of having 10,000 persons accept the vaccine.
With widespread refusal to take the COVID-19 vaccine locally, Malone — to move the process along — offered free lunches to the first 61 persons who took their first dose of the vaccine before the end of the day and proved it. Sixty-one was the number of vaccinations needed to reach 10,000 and he issued the challenge under the hashtag, ‘#Jab&Dine‘.
A total of 112 persons vaccinated that day; bringing the total number of vaccinations to date to 10,051. However, some residents have described #Jab&Dine as distasteful and bribery.
Malone has rebuffed those claims.
“This was not, as some as speculated, a bribe to get anyone. We have to reopen our economy. We have to make sure that all is done in terms of following the protocols and this (vaccination) is the science that is offered to us in terms of how we get through this,” Malone stated Wednesday evening.
And while continuing the conversation this morning, Malone said the 112 persons who vaccinated yesterday did so “voluntarily and WITHOUT being blackmailed”.
“In celebration of the 10,000 persons mark, I will personally honour my pledge to the first 61 persons who submit their immunisation card or picture to 441-0332. #Jab&Dine,” the minister stated.
He added: “Just like other deadly viruses throughout the ages, vaccination is required to lessen the transmission and the effects of COVID-19. It is NOT my wish to intimidate you, to threaten you or to blackmail you but rather to advise of the benefits of being vaccinated. Why risk your life and the life of others? Why risk your business and the business of others? Why risk your job and the job of others? The choice is yours. There are sufficient vaccines for an additional 7,000 persons. Will you be one? The opportunity is here but the choice is yours. Don’t hesitate, vaccinate!”
To date, the BVI has received a total of 34,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine — enough to inoculate 17 thousand people.
The vaccines currently in hand will expire before the end of the second quarter of 2021. The government said it is willing to return unwanted vaccines to the UK and Dominica so they can be given to persons who need the jabs in those countries.