More vaccine doses arrive

The long-awaited first shipment of COVID-19 vaccine from COVAX Facility arrived in The Bahamas yesterday, adding 33,600 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to the 20,000 that was donated earlier this month by the Indian government.

“And as of today, we have received 53,600 vaccines,” Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis said shortly after the vaccine landed at Jet Aviation Airport on New Providence.

“The batch we received today represents the first tranche of a total of 100,800 doses earmarked for The Bahamas and prepaid through the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO) revolving fund.”

PAHO Country Representative Dr. Eldonna Boisson said the other 67,200 doses are scheduled to arrive in The Bahamas in May.

Boisson said the vaccines are especially important as global COVID-19 cases and deaths have been increasing since February.

“While there is reason for hope, we must always remember that vaccine doses are limited, and it will be several months before we can rely on vaccines alone to control this virus,” she said.

“Although the scale-up of vaccination production has begun, we know it’s not enough. We do not yet have the vaccines that we need to protect everyone. It’s what happens when the whole world must rely on too few manufacturers.”

While vaccinations on Eleuthera began yesterday, Minnis said it will begin on Abaco and Bimini next week.

He said vaccinations on Eleuthera will continue this week through Thursday, before breaking for the Easter holiday. On New Providence and Grand Bahama, vaccinations will continue through the end of today.

Vaccinations will resume on all islands on Tuesday, April 7, when more people will be eligible to receive the vaccine, Minnis said.

“At that time, those with disabilities, teachers, and hospitality workers will become eligible to receive the vaccine,” he said.

“Additional vaccination centers will be opened on New Providence. Provisions will also be made for students and athletes who require vaccinations to travel abroad. This will include coaches and other support staff.”

Minnis urged eligible Bahamians to get vaccinated so that the country can be further opened.

“As more people become vaccinated, we will be able to relax restrictions and see more of our family and friends,” he said.

“We will be able to open up our economy more and to get back to work. Health officials have informed me that they are pleased with the number of people who have taken a vaccine so far.”

Minnis added, “Thousands of Bahamians have taken this vaccine, along with approximately 400 million people around the world.

“I have taken the vaccine. My wife, Patricia, has taken the vaccine. We are fine.

“In order for us to prevent additional bad waves of the virus we need Bahamians to quickly come forward to get vaccinated when eligible.

“The vaccine is our pathway to further opening up our economy and the creation of more jobs.

“It is dangerous to delay taking a safe and effective vaccine during a global public health crisis. As you wait, you could get infected with the virus. You could then end up in the hospital with permanent health issues – or worse, it could kill you.”

Minnis continued, “The only way out of this pandemic is through vaccinations. Anyone who tells you otherwise is providing you with false information.

“…Here at home, we are in a race. We must get as many people vaccinated as soon as possible before there is spread of one of these problematic variants in our country.”

The COVAX Facility is a global effort co-led by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), the Gavi Vaccine Alliance, UNICEF, the World Health Organization (WHO), and PAHO.