CPSA: Mixed views from some members on vaccine

With underwhelming numbers of frontline workers having taken the COVID-19 vaccine, Consultant Physicians Staff Association (CPSA) Vice President Dr. John Dillet said yesterday that the rollout could have been more robust had the government collaborated more with other stakeholders.

Dillet noted that CPSA members have expressed varying degrees of enthusiasm for the vaccine, with some having been vaccinated already and others opting not to take it.

“I believe that if the government had taken it upon itself to do a wide sweeping national rollout, getting endorsements from major health unions, as well as entities like the Medical Association of The Bahamas, the CPSA, the [Bahamas Doctors Union] BDU, the [Bahamas] Nurses Union, [if] they incorporated every sector of the community from religious leaders to our entertainers to our civic leaders and really educated those individuals, brought them in as part of the process and collaborated effectively, I think that perhaps the rollout would have been more robust,” Dillard said in an interview with The Guardian.

“Perhaps, we would be further along.

“That’s not to say that those things cannot still happen. I’m hopeful that the government will tweak its approach and realize what’s working and what perhaps needs to improve.

“I do believe, though, that persons involved with the vaccine rollout are working really hard and they have some very good people involved. And from what I understand from persons who have taken the vaccine, they are very pleased with the service, the professionalism and the order in which it is being done.

“But, of course, we are in a race against time. The quicker we get persons vaccinated, the quicker we get to the finish line of overcoming this pandemic.”

While Dillet said there has not been an internal poll to determine exact numbers, some members of the CPSA have been vaccinated and others haven’t.

“I do know that some members have taken it, but we have also had some members who said that they were going to hold off,” he said.

The Indian government recently donated 20,000 doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine to The Bahamas.

Last week marked the official start of The Bahamas’ COVID-19 vaccine rollout, which was launched at PMH.

Leading up to the start of the rollout, the major healthcare unions, including the CPSA, BDU and the BNU, said they had not been apprised of rollout plans.

Dillet said yesterday that nothing has changed since then.

“We have not officially as a union been collaborated with through government entities regarding the vaccine rollout,” he said.

Healthcare workers and uniformed branch workers were initially slated to be vaccinated during the first phase of the rollout. However, only days into the rollout, the vaccine was made available to people over 65.

Last week, Dr. Caroline Burnett-Garraway, medical chief of staff at PMH, said a study conducted across public healthcare institutions earlier this year showed about 40 percent of healthcare workers were prepared to take the COVID-19 vaccine.

Dillet said vaccine hesitancy is likely due to three factors. 

“One, persons may think that they have a lack of information in order to make an informed decision about whether or not to take the vaccine,” he said.

“Secondly, they may have misinformation, which may have discouraged them from taking the vaccine based on erroneous reports from perhaps bad sources.

“And thirdly…if there is a trust issue, if persons mistrust either the message that’s being delivered or the messengers who are delivering the message, it does not allow for confidence in persons’ decision-making. 

“So, I think what we’re seeing with the vaccine hesitancy is a combination of those three major factors.”