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HomeNewsLocal newsCOVID-19 Vaccination Outreach Gets Big Shot in the Arm on STJ

COVID-19 Vaccination Outreach Gets Big Shot in the Arm on STJ

Col. Sally F. Petty, second from left, briefs members of the Virgin Islands National Guard on operations for the March 20 vaccination center at the Morris de Castro Clinic on St. John. (Photo by FEMA/Eric Adams)

A whole community effort led to 155 COVID-19 vaccine dosages administered at the Morris de Castro Clinic in Cruz Bay on March 20, according to a news release issued Friday by the Federal Emergencvy Management Agency.

Logistical precision between federal and territorial partners ensured vaccine doses crossed the Pillsbury Sound from Red Hook on St. Thomas to St. John and got into arms, according to the agency’s release.

FEMA said planning led to the proper storage and handling of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and the delivery of medical supplies, personal protective equipment, tables and chairs, safety cones and signs to the Morris de Castro Clinic. The V.I. National Guard delivered 25 vials of vaccine to St. John and the V.I. Department of Health and V.I. Territorial Emergency Management Agency ensured laptops were at the clinic to track vaccine dosages through the Vaccine Administration Management System.

Accordng to FEMA, Assistant Health Commissioner Nicole Craigwell-Syms led the way with the “boots on the ground” approach for educating St. John’s residents on the importance of receiving the COVID-19 vaccine.

“An appointment list of 60 quickly increased because of the team approach we have supported since the beginning of the pandemic,” Craigwell-Syms said. “I am proud of the small team we have at the Morris de Castro Clinic under leadership of Aliah Lockhart.

The Department of Defense provided clinical support with two physicians, two pharmacists, two medical supply personnel and seven vaccinators at the Cruz Bay vaccination center.

Dr. Nicole Craigwell-Syms, Assistant Commissioner for the V.I. Department of Health, greets Joseph Zachary outside the Morris de Castro Clinic in Cruz Bay on St. John on March 20. (Photo by FEMA/Eric Adams)

“After three weeks administering COVID vaccinations at the University of Virgin Islands, a contingent of our medical vaccination team supported by Virgin Islands National Guardsmen held its first vaccination clinic in St. John at the de Castro Clinic. Applying the same process and procedures, the team did a fantastic job to administer 155 immunizations in about four hours. The close coordination and teamwork between the Department of Health, VITEMA, FEMA, and Love City Strong volunteers, ensured the operation was a success,” said Cmdr. Scott Farr of the U.S. Coast Guard.

The Cruz Bay vaccination center’s operations received support from 11 members of the V.I. National Guard as well.

“Our uniformed members work daily with our civilian counterparts to plan, sustain, and lead efforts to reduce the spread of this pandemic within our Territory,” said Brig. Gen. Kodjo Knox-Limbacker, the adjutant general of the Virgin Islands National Guard.

Stephen Libbey and Kenisha Small of Love City Strong provide support March 20 at the Cruz Bay vaccination center. (Photo by FEMA/Eric Adams)

“These efforts bring us closer to Gov. Albert Bryan Jr.’s goal of 50,000 shots in arms by July 1, 2021. I continue to be very proud of our military men and women’s level of performance under the leadership of Dual Status Commander, Col. Sally F. Petty.”

Members of Love City Strong, a St. John-based nonprofit focused on disaster preparedness and response, also assisted at the event. Through community outreach, LCS helped residents register for appointments and ensured chairs, tables, and tents were in place at the de Castro Clinic.

“Love City Strong’s service to the community is rooted in the idea of public private partnerships. Our priority is to support equitable access to the COVID-19 vaccines, and we’re proud to be a part of this joint effort with our federal and territorial partners” said LCS’ Executive Director Meaghan Enright.

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