The UK has delivered 3,000 doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine to the Falkland Islands, in a haul that will enable the South Atlantic archipelago to complete phase one of its vaccine roll-out scheme – giving two-dose protection to everyone over the age 50, along with health workers and members of other at-risk groups, by the middle of next month.
The mission to get jabs to Brits in the Falklands began at 1.10am on Monday when the shipment left RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire.
“Tasks like this are exciting for our teams to support and send out vaccines to overseas territories” said Group Captain Simon Blackwell. “Being an island, the Falklands can be quite a challenging route to fly to, with tricky weather en route.”
The Executive Council of the Islands finalised their roll-out scheme on Monday evening following the delivery of the consignment. It is based on the current UK scheme, but with minor adjustments based on the unique demographic traits of the settlement.
The programme will begin next Monday with over-50s being given carefully calibrated one hour slots to attend an appointment at the Falkland Islands Defence Force Hall throughout the week.
The 3,000 dose delivery will be more than enough to cover the entire first phase of the programme, which will give second jabs to residents six weeks after their first – just half of the UK wait time.
And local authorities calculate that the 3,000 dose consignment will leave them with enough remaining doses to begin the second phase of the roll-out too, targeting people carrying out vital work on the island.
The strength of the vaccine roll-out and support of the British government will make the proud Brits of the Falkland Islands even happier that they aren’t under the yoke of Argentine rule. The South American country has delivered less than one jab per 100 people compared to nearly 15 in the UK.
A 2013 referendum on the Islands saw 99.8% of voters back continued status as an Overseas Territory of the United Kingdom, but Argentine governments continue to claim the terrority as their own despite being battered in a 1982 conflict against the UK under Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.