HEALTH Minister Renward Wells. Photo: Donavan McIntosh/Tribune staff
By LEANDRA ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
HEALTH Minister Renward Wells said yesterday he is not disappointed that the first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have not yet arrived in the country.
The government was expected to receive its first doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine late last week, with Mr Wells telling reporters at the time that administration of the jabs could begin “as early” this week.
However, the vaccines never arrived and it is still not clear when the first doses will be present in the country.
Asked for an update on the matter outside the House of Assembly yesterday, the minister replied: “We will update the public sometime this week, later on this week. There is no disappointment. The fact of the matter is I am so happy that y’all are concerned and elated and making sure that you keep the Bahamian people informed because when it does come, we do want all of the Bahamians (to take it).”
Last week, Mr Wells could not say how many doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine will arrive in The Bahamas in the first tranche. However, The Bahamas is expected to receive 100,000 doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine from the World Health Organisation.
According to the health minister, the government will likely use the first batch all at once to vaccinate citizens, meaning that if 100,000 doses have been shipped to the country, 100,000 people will be able to be vaccinated.
“We have always talked about the 100,000 dosage which is about 50,000 doses if you give everyone two doses, but the dose is obviously spread over a period of eight to 12 weeks for AstraZeneca. That’s when they say it’s most effective,” he told reporters before going to Cabinet last Tuesday.
“So more than likely the government will vaccinate everyone first, give them their first shot of those who are wanting to be vaccinated. That could be up to 100,000 persons barring we don’t have any spillage and wastage. So, we’re looking in the first tranche to be able to do (it).”
According to officials, several vaccination sites have already been identified in New Providence, Grand Bahama and the Family Islands.
Among the first priority groups eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine on New Providence and Grand Bahama are healthcare workers; people over the age of 65; uniformed branch members; frontline workers; critical workers in high-risk settings and other essential service workers.
Meanwhile, on the Family Islands, residents there will be vaccinated at the same time and the schedule will not follow the prioritised group rollout as previously announced.