HEALTH Minister Dr Michael Darville.
By LEANDRA ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
HEALTH Minister Dr Michael Darville said yesterday that officials believe the country has enough vaccine supplies to ensure that Bahamians can receive their second doses without disruption until the next shipment of vaccines arrives early next month.
Speaking to reporters before yesterday’s weekly Cabinet meeting, Dr Darville said the country should receive some 57,000 vaccine doses in the first week of November.
The arrival of additional vaccines was also promised by a Pan American Health Organisation representative during the organisation’s weekly webinar last week.
Yesterday, Dr Darville said: “There was a bit of a challenge as a result of the COVAX facility where there are some 54,000 or maybe 57,000 doses that were supposed to be in the country now. There was some delay and I was told up to yesterday that we’re looking at the first week in November.”
The Ministry of Health has advised that first doses of the Pfizer vaccine will no longer be offered as of October 18 due to “diminishing supplies.”
Asked yesterday if he was concerned about supplies running out before the next batch arrives, Dr Darville replied: “Not really. We have to make sure that we’re able to provide the necessary second doses. Today is the 12th and so we’re looking at two weeks and we believe we have enough supplies.
“But you know in the vaccine world, people like choices and so there may be some people who want Pfizer and if they can’t get the first dose of Pfizer, decide to wait until the supplies are in island early next month.”
News of limited vaccine supplies comes as residents appear to show a greater appetite to receive the jab amid high virus hospitalisation and death rates.
Speaking on the government’s vaccination programme yesterday, Dr Darville said the initiative was progressing very well.
He said fears of contracting the infectious disease along with rising virus related-death rates have encouraged people to get vaccinated in recent weeks.
“As you could see, many more people are coming forward to be vaccinated. They understand the dangers of COVID. They looked at our death count and they realise that our hospitals are bursting from the seams,” the health minister said.
“We’re trying to do the best that we can and we are now asking the Bahamian people to move swiftly to receive vaccinations and to ensure that if you do have COVID symptoms to respond very quickly rather than wait at home for a long period of time because the window of survival is very narrow and it’s important to respond very rapidly if you start to develop mild to moderate signs.”
Dr Darville also revealed that vaccinations have already started at the Bahamas Department of Correctional Services, though he was unable to say how many prisoners have taken the jab to date.
As it relates to when the country can expect to receive its second tranche of donated vaccines from the United States government, Dr Darville was unable to say yesterday.
In August, The Bahamas received 128,700 doses of the Pfizer vaccine as a donation from the US government. The shipment was the first tranche of 397,000 Pfizer vaccine doses expected to be donated to this country.
“I’m being told that the process is in play,” Dr Darville said. “As you’re aware, they were donations of vaccines from the United States and not only for The Bahamas but for the entire region. We are close and cannot give a date at this particular time, but we will definitely receive those vaccines.”
According to the government’s latest vaccine tracker, 115,153 people are now fully vaccinated while 238,512 have received at least one vaccine dose.