PRIME Minister Philip “Brave” Davis, Foreign Affairs and Public Service Minister Fred Mitchell and US Chargé d’Affaires Usha Pitts sending off vaccinations to the Family Islands yesterday. Photo: Donovan McIntosh/Tribune Staff
By EARYEL BOWLEG
Tribune Staff Reporter
THE Bahamas government and the United States began a joint mission yesterday to distribute COVID-19 vaccine doses to several Family Islands, including Abaco, Bimini, Long Island, Exuma and Eleuthera.
Prime Minister Philip “Brave” Davis along with other local and US Embassy officials held a press conference at Odyssey Aviation for the rollout of vaccines for the Family Islands.
According to the US Embassy in Nassau, the mission is between September 23-28. The embassy said the first day of the “effort alone will result in the distribution of 1,590 vaccine doses to Bahamians on the island of Abaco”.
“The Rhode Island National Guard (RING), supported by USNORTHCOM, provided the aircraft for the mission— a C-12 plane capable of carrying 1650lbs of passengers and cargo – as well as two pilots and three vaccination subject matter experts.
“Four to six Royal Bahamas Defence Force medical personnel will work alongside their RING colleagues to execute the joint mission. In addition to distributing life-saving vaccines, the mission will provide an opportunity to exchange best practices on the logistics of vaccine distribution and wider interagency coordination,” the embassy said in a release.
Mr Davis expressed gratitude to the embassy and US government.
“We are in discussions to ensure that enough Pfizer arrives in The Bahamas and arrives in time to be able to see that we get our country fully vaccinated,” he said.
Cultural events, such as Junkanoo, did not happen in typical fashion last year nor this year due to the pandemic.
Asked if the country can expect Junkanoo parades or cultural events due to the slow increase in vaccination numbers, the prime minister replied: “It depends on how Bahamians respond to the cry to become vaccinated. At that time the decision will be made again. I’ll be relying on the experts and the scientists and doctors to determine whether or not we should be doing those things.”
While encouraging people to get vaccinated, Mr Davis emphasised that vaccination is not the end-all to stamping out the disease and asked residents to adhere to COVID protocols.
“Vaccine is not the end all to our challenges because as you are aware there could be breakthroughs and so while we insist that we all attempt to be and encourage persons to be vaccinated we still are asking them to follow our COVID protocols. Keep your mask on, wash your hands until we get the answer to eradicating this deadly disease,” he said.
The vaccine delivery comes after the announcement of the United States requiring all adult foreign visitors who are travelling by air to show full COVID-19 vaccination status.
Foreign travellers will also have to obtain a negative COVID-19 test within three days of travelling, but fully vaccinated international travellers will not have to quarantine upon their arrival in the U.S.
US Chargé d’Affaires Usha Pitts said officials are still waiting for further details on the new policy.
“The United States will require all travellers to be vaccinated,” she said. “So we’re still waiting for the details of how that will happen, but I can tell you today which is that it will be coming sometime in mid-November so you have a little bit of time to get vaccinated if you haven’t done it. The second is that we know children will be exempt. So other than that, I don’t have details, but I am really gratified to hear that Bahamians’ vaccination demand has gone up as a result of that regulation.”