Today the Chief Minister, the Hon Fabian Picardo, HE The Governor, Sir David Steele and Minister for Health and Care, the Hon Samantha Sacramento were at St Bernard’s Hospital to receive the first consignment of the COVID-19 vaccine supplied by the UK and delivered by a Royal Air Force military transport aircraft.
Minister for the Armed Forces James Heappey said, “The UK Armed Forces have stepped up to support British nationals, wherever they are, since the very start of the Covid-19 pandemic. Following the RAF’s delivery of thousands of vaccines this weekend, the airmen and women, sailors and soldiers of British Forces Gibraltar are working together to get the life- saving jab into British arms as quickly as possible.”
Alongside the delivery of these vital vaccine, Armed Forces personnel from the Royal Gibraltar Regiment and other military personnel based in Gibraltar will be held at readiness to provide logistical assistance to the Government of Gibraltar in their response to the pandemic. This follows a similar deployment last March, when Armed Forces personnel provided logistical support to the delivery of PPE and medical advice.
Commodore Steve Dainton, Commander British Forces Gibraltar said: “The arrival of the vaccine in Gibraltar tonight is the culmination of a lot of hard work by British Forces Gibraltar personnel, worked relentlessly alongside RAF, FCDO and HMGoG colleagues to make this happen.”
Support to Gibraltar forms part of Operation Broadshare, the UK Armed Forces’ response to the Covid-19 pandemic overseas.
The vaccine supplied to Gibraltar is the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine which has been given to the vast majority of people that have received a COVID-19 vaccination in the U.K. Studies so far show that up to 95% of people who are fully vaccinated with the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine develop an immune response.
The Pfizer BioNTech vaccine works by triggering the body’s natural response to produce antibodies to the virus that causes COVID-19, and also by stimulating the production of the body’s own cells to fight the virus. The Pfizer BioNTech vaccine does not contain any live COVID-19 virus and therefore cannot cause COVID-19.
The Chief Minister, the Hon Fabian Picardo QC MP said: "The arrival of this vaccine is a demonstration of our work with the FCDO and MoD as part of the British family of nations, a stunning example of the power of science and a chance for each of us to get inoculated against deadly COVID 19. I have registered for the vaccine already and I urge everyone to do so and in that way help us to turn the corner and get Gibraltar and our economy and public finances back on track!"
The Minister for Health, the Hon Samantha Sacramento MP added: “I am delighted that we now have many thousands of doses of the vaccine in our ultra-low temperature freezers in Gibraltar. Tomorrow will see the first residents and staff from ERS receive the vaccine along with front-line workers in the GHA and the Care Agency. Monday will see the opening of the public vaccination centre in the former Primary Care Centre in Casemates Square which will allow over 500 of our most vulnerable people to be vaccinated per day. I would like to express my thanks to everyone who has worked to make this possible. Every injection that we give from tomorrow starts to reduce the likelihood of people in Gibraltar becoming seriously ill or even dying. As soon as it is my turn I will be taking this vaccine.”
The Medical Director of Gibraltar Health Authority, Dr Krishna Rawal said: “There is no doubt in my mind that having this vaccine is the right thing to do. All through the pandemic I have followed the advice to protect myself and my family and to stay fit and well to serve our community. The vaccine is now the best way to do that and I am proud to say that as a front-line doctor I will be amongst the first to be vaccinated tomorrow. I will be asking all GHA staff and patients to have the vaccine when it is their turn.”
The Gibraltar Director of Public Health, Dr Sohail Bhatti added: “This vaccine has been given to millions of people and does not contain any live organisms. It has been found to be safe and even the initial restrictions about giving it to people with severe allergies and who are breastfeeding are being progressively relaxed. The Pfizer vaccine has produced a superior immune response in people of all ages more quickly than any other COVID-19 vaccine that is currently available so I am delighted that this is the vaccine that has been supplied to Gibraltar. Please take your one chance to be released from the nightmare of the last year and give yourself freedom from fear and uncertainty. When it is my turn I will be taking this vaccine.”
The Director of the Gibraltar Primary Care Centre Dr Valerie Flores said: “Your GPs are strongly recommending that you take the offer of vaccination against COVID-19 when it is your turn. We are fortunate in Gibraltar to have received this vaccine in advance of so many other countries who are still waiting for a vaccine. As Dr Bhatti has said, the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine has been given to millions of people now and has been shown to provide one of the best responses in adults of all ages. I will be taking the vaccine this weekend to help protect my patients, my family and friends, my colleagues and the public.”