st maarten judith roumou


The first shots against corona have to be taken this week on the Caribbean islands. And that happens with vaccines donated by the Netherlands. It is not yet alive on the island of Sint Maarten, says resident Tim van Dijk. “People wonder why they should take it.”
While vaccinations have been going on for weeks in the Netherlands, the Caribbean part of our kingdom has not yet been injected. This week that will change. Tomorrow, the first shipment of vaccines will leave for the Caribbean. The Health Ministry is aiming to complete the vaccination campaign there before the hurricane season begins.

The islands in the Caribbean part of the
That will be quite a job, thinks freelance cameraman Tim van Dijk. He lives on Sint Maarten and sees the division about the corona vaccine. “Most people on Sint Maarten wonder why they should be vaccinated. It is not alive here.” And that is due to the low infection rates on the island. “Corona measures are there, but not as strict as in the Netherlands. The catering industry is open. And people sing karaoke.”
Another problem on the island is that you have to register for a corona vaccination. “There are about 40,000 registered people living here with a Dutch passport, but also about 20,000 undocumented migrants. They are afraid of that registration, because they usually stay here illegally.” That is why, according to Van Dijk, the question is whether these people will get the vaccine.

However, the government in Sint Maarten is doing everything it can to get as many people as possible to the injection sites. For example, sound cars drive around the island. “They tell in four or five languages why people should take the vaccine.”

Sound cars or not, the doubt remains. Tim van Dijk, for example, spoke to many people on Sint Maarten who believe that the vaccine has arrived too quickly. Religious people also have doubts about the vaccine. “There are large denominations on the island. They do not support this vaccine on principle.
Still, the injection has to start this week. It was previously January. The delay came because the islands were not yet ready, according to a spokesman for the Ministry of Health. “The infrastructure and facilities are different and sometimes more limited than in the Netherlands and these must be in order before the vaccines arrive.”

The freezers have now arrived on Sint Maarten. This is necessary because the Pfizer vaccine must be stored at -80 degrees Celsius. The first injection sites are also known. For example, agreements have been made with community centers, according to Van Dijk. On Sint Maarten, care workers and elderly people over 60 will be the first to act.

A tourist in the empty streets of the capital Philipsburg. “There are hardly any tourists. Only sometimes a few lost Americans or Canadians who have an apartment here.”
A tourist in the empty streets of the capital Philipsburg. “There are hardly any tourists. Only sometimes a few lost Americans or Canadians who have an apartment here.”

Although the residents of Sint Maarten are not exactly eager, the vaccine for the island could be the way out of the crisis. “They long for tourists here. We will not make it without tourism. It is the only pillar for this island.”

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