ST. CROIX, U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS – Acting Health Commissioner Reuben Molloy is urging the public to be vigilant as seasonal viruses and COVID-19 circulate in the Territory. This call is particularly pertinent following the influx of visitors during the holidays.
“We are receiving more and more calls about the flu and viruses spreading in the Territory, and we encourage the public to take precautions to protect against contracting and spreading the flu and COVID,” Acting Commissioner Molloy said. “The flu and the COVID vaccines are the most effective methods to prevent severe symptoms and curb the spread of these viruses. Additional preventive measures include practicing good hand hygiene, covering coughs and sneezes, and staying home when feeling unwell.”
Acting Commissioner Molloy acknowledged that current reports indicate low numbers of both COVID and flu cases, with 15 COVID cases reported last week and seven flu cases in December. However, he cautioned that it may take up to two weeks to see a spike post-large gatherings due to the viruses’ incubation period, people falling ill, and subsequent testing and reporting.
Both COVID and the flu present with similar symptoms, including fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, and diarrhea.
Older adults and individuals with underlying medical conditions are at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19. Most people who get flu will recover in a few days to less than two weeks, but some people may develop complications (such as pneumonia) because of flu, some of which can be life-threatening. This includes individuals 65 years and older, individuals with certain chronic medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes, or heart disease, and pregnant women. Children younger than 5 years, but especially those younger than 2 years old, are also at high risk.
“We urge the public to prioritize their health by getting vaccinated against COVID and the flu, especially the elderly and young children who are most susceptible to severe complications,” said Acting Commissioner Molloy said.
The Department of Health continues to offer free COVID testing at the following locations and schedule:
-St. Croix: Adjacent to VIDOH’s red modular in Estate Richmond, weekdays from 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.
-St. Thomas: Schneider Regional Medical Center loading dock drive-thru, Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays from 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.
-St. John: Wednesdays at the VIPA Parking Lot from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m.
Individuals may also book a test slot by calling the VIDOH Hotline between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. Hotline numbers are (340) 712-6299 for St. Croix and (340) 776-1519 for St. Thomas-St. John.
The VI Department of Health continues to provide the flu vaccine free to the public.
The COVID vaccine is also offered at no cost to the uninsured population and to those who are under-insured, meaning their insurance does not cover the cost of the COVID vaccine. The department is not yet providing the COVID-19 vaccine for individuals covered by insurance. Insured individuals are advised to visit their private provider or an urgent care facility for the COVID-19 vaccine.
“We are working to obtain the updated COVID vaccine for insured individuals,” Acting Commissioner Molloy said. “As soon we have the COVID for insured individual is our clinics, we will notify the public.”
The COVID and flu vaccine is available on St. Croix from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., Monday through Thursday, at the Department of Health clinic located on the second floor of #35 Castle Coakley Unit 5, known as the Old Caribe Home Center Building.
On St. Thomas, for adults, vaccinations are available from 9 a.m. to noon, Monday to Thursday, at the Community Health Clinic located at the Schneider Regional Medical Center. For the FLU vaccine call (340) 774-7477 to make an appointment. For children, vaccinations are available at the Maternal Child Health.
The Community Health Clinic at Morris De Castro Clinic in Cruz Bay, St. John will offer the Flu vaccine to adults 18 years and older, and the COVID-19 vaccine for the uninsured and underinsured.
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