Gibraltar becomes first country to achieve full vaccination against covid
London, March 19, 2021 (AltAfrica)-Gibraltar a tiny British Overseas Territory and headland, on Spain’s south coast has become the first country in the world to achieve full coronavirus vaccination for all its citizens
Dubbed “Operation Freedom”, Gibraltar’s vaccination campaign is among the fastest in Europe, and its success is due to a combination of factors: the uninterrupted supply of vaccines from the U.K., its small population and its tiny geography
British Health Secretary, Matt Hancock who announced the development during during a parliamentary briefing said the feet was achieved on Wednesday March 17, 2021. ” I am delighted to be able to tell the house that yesterday (Wednesday March 17, 2021) Gibraltar became the first nation in the world to complete its entire adult vaccination programme”
The U.K. procures coronavirus vaccines for Gibraltar and the rest of the British Overseas Territories. Since early January, about 50,000 doses have been flown to the Rock. The last consignment, containing about 12,000 doses, landed in Gibraltar earlier this week.
“We provided Gibraltar with PPE, testing and sovereign guarantee for their covid spending. We have also provided Gibraltar vaccines as we have with all other British Overseas Territories, British Health Secretary, Matt Hancock told the parliament.
The vast majority of vaccines being administered in Gibraltar are manufactured by Pfizer/BioNTech, with a small number of jabs produced by AstraZeneca which are reserved for people who can’t get Pfizer’s jab for medical reasons
But Gibraltar is not only vaccinating its own residents. About 10,000 Spanish nationals who are registered as frontier workers are eligible for a jab too. Of them, about 1,700 have already received a U.K. vaccine, most of which work in the health and social care sector.
In an interview, Gibraltar Health Minister Samantha Sacramento told POLITICO that it made sense from an epidemiologic point of view to treat residents and non-residents working closely with Gibraltarians in the same way.
“If we are a community that wants to look after our people, it is about working together and going about it in a strategic way. When you are working on immunization, it is about the number of people whom you immunize,”
And unlike the U.K., where only over-18s can get a jab, teenagers aged between 16 and 18 are eligible for a vaccine, in order to ensure their safe return to the classroom when schools reopen in the coming weeks, Sacramento said.
The quick rollout has enabled a cautious reopening of the hospitality sector from Monday, but the minister said restrictions such as Gibraltar’s night curfew and rule-of-5 on social gatherings will remain in place, as the authorities still have to analyze the impact of the immunization campaign on the spread and severity of the coronavirus.
In the meantime, Gibraltar is studying proposals for a digital vaccine passport in the hope of resuming international travel in the summer. The app is being developed by the Gibraltar government’s digital services team and the Gibraltar Health Authority’s IT department, and will show data on the user’s vaccinations and COVID-19 tests.
Sacramento said she hoped people living in the U.K. are not jealous of the high share of Gibraltarians vaccinated thanks to British jabs.
“We are British citizens in the same way as everyone in the U.K. is. In the big scheme of things, given the high volumes [of doses] being administered in the U.K., I don’t think that because we have received the number of vaccines that we have received, it would have had an impact on someone not getting it in the U.K.,” she said. “We are a small drop. I wouldn’t like to see this as a competition between each other.”