There are now Virgin Islanders infected with the latest COVID-19 variants – BA.4 and BA.5 – and cases of the more resistant virus are on the rise throughout the territory, according to a Health official appearing at the weekly Government House press briefing Monday.
Dr. Esther Ellis, the V.I. Health Department’s epidemiologist, reported 208 active cases with a 7-day positivity rate of 12.4 percent, up from 10.5 percent last week. St. Croix has 138 infections, St. Thomas has 55, and there are 20 cases on St. John. Two patients are hospitalized at Juan Luis Hospital on St. Croix, and there are four patients at the Schneider Regional Medical Center on St. Thomas.
A vaccine targeting new variants will be available in the fall, Ellis said.
“This new formulation is similar to our annual flu vaccines that vary depending on the variant that is most prevalent during that season,” Ellis said, adding the public will be alerted when the new vaccine is available locally.
Ellis also reminded the public that the schedule for free vaccinations and testing changed July 1.
Adult vaccinations are available at SRMC from 9 a.m to noon and 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays at the Community Vaccination Center. Appointments can be made at 340-774-7447.
Vaccines on St. Croix are administered at the Charles Harwood Complex from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays. Make appointments at 340-718-1311, ext. 3895 or 3822.
On St. John, vaccinations are available by appointment only at the Morris DeCastro Clinic by calling 340-776-6400.
Pediatric vaccinations for children six months to 4 years old have been authorized as a three-dose series of the Pfizer-BioNtech. For children 5-17 years of age, it is a two-dose series. And the Moderna vaccine is available for six months to 5-year-olds in two doses.
Pediatric vaccinations and infant vaccinations are available on St. Thomas at the Maternal and Child Health Clinic from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m Tuesdays and Fridays. On St. Croix, the shots are administered under the tent at Charles Harwood from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m on Fridays. Children on St. John can receive the vaccine at the DeCastro Clinic by appointment at 340-776-6400. On St. Thomas, parents and guardians can call 340-777-8804, ext. 2600, and on St. Croix, appointments can be made at COVID19usvi.com/vaccines.
While no cases of monkeypox have been identified in the territory, Ellis said tests and vaccines are available. Many cases resolve themselves without treatment in 2-4 weeks, she added.
Richard Motta, Government House communications director, reminded the public of the governor’s “Our Best Life” initiative to improve physical, mental, and emotional health through a series of upcoming events, activities, and services.
Beginning July 20, “Walk Out Wednesdays,” a fitness challenge for all ages, involves one day over a six-week period of walking two to four miles. Participants will receive a free T-shirt, wristband, and towel.
St. Croix walkers will meet at Midre Cummings Park at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesdays and walk to the Frederiksted Pool and back – about four miles. St. Thomas walkers will start at Griffith Park and walk to Yacht Haven Grande and back – about three miles total, and St. John walkers will start from the V.I. National Park Ballpark to Caneel Bay Hotel and back – also about three miles.
The first V.I. Digital Health Summit will be held July 25-27 at the Charles Wesley Turnbull Regional Public Library with discussions on broadband, health issues, funding, taxes, and workforce opportunities. To register, visit the summit online.
The public was also reminded by Motta of the V.I. Diabetes Center of Excellence free health fair July 30 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the City of Refuge Convention Center in Barren Spot on St. Croix. Adults and children with diabetes, pre-diabetes, or a family history will receive free screenings, eye exams, foot and chiropractic care, and information about nutrition, diet, and medication management. An endocrinologist will be available for counseling. For more information, call 340-208-0260 or visit vidcoe.org.