The Oxford AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, pictured being administered in Morocco in January. (AP Photo/Abdeljalil Bounhar)
By RASHAD ROLLE
Tribune Senior Reporter
THE Office of the Prime Minister announced yesterday that the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine will be given to all people over the age of 18 after the World Health Organisation endorsed its use for people over 65.
“The National COVID-19 Vaccine Consultative Committee will continue to follow the guidelines set out by the WHO,” an OPM statement said. “The AstraZeneca vaccine will be administered to eligible Bahamians and residents over the age of 18 who choose to take it.”
During a press conference last week, Dr Merceline Dahl-Regis, chairman of the consultative committee, said officials were waiting on scientific studies about the effectiveness of the vaccine in the over-65 population before recommending its use for people in that age group.
“As we indicated last week at the press conference, we will continue to be guided by the science,” she said in yesterday’s statement.
One hundred thousand doses of the vaccine are expected to arrive in the country sometime between this and the end of the second quarter of the year.
Health officials have formed three “priority groups”, a characterisation that will determine who gets the vaccine and when.
Group one includes healthcare workers, uniform branch workers and elder care providers.
Group two includes people with disabilities, people living in congregate settings, critical workers in high-risk settings, other essential service workers, people with co-morbidities and underlying chronic conditions and sea, air and ground persons.
Group three will include all other people.
Dr Dahl-Regis said last week that officials anticipate that the vaccination process for the first batch of vaccines will be completed over six weeks.
She noted that some people should not get the vaccine.
“Extra precautions must be taken to determine if there are significant allergies or if the immune system is compromised to the point that significantly reduces the effect of the vaccine. This is the reason why we must protect those who cannot receive the vaccine. “Getting the vaccine protects not only you but those around you,” she said.
The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, which was co-invented by the University of Oxford, will be provided through the World Health Organisation’s COVAX facility.
Although the government did not have a choice in which vaccine it would get from the WHO, Dr Dahl-Regis said among the three most prominent vaccines worldwide – Oxford-AstraZeneca, Pfizer and Moderna – the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is the one that officials preferred.