Friday, May 14, 2021


Health Officials Warn of Coronavirus Misinformation Circulating Social Media

Health officials are warning the public of a fake COVID-19 message circulating social media, purporting to be a request from the Ministry of Health.

The social media message is targeting people who were inoculated with Astra Zeneca, requesting that they share their personal information if they experienced COVID-like symptoms after taking the Astra-Zeneca vaccine in the Bahamas.

In a press statement released on Thursday, the Ministry of Health said it was made “aware of a message circulating on social media purporting to be an urgent and very important request for persons vaccinated with the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine in the Bahamas. The message appealed to persons experiencing COVID-like symptoms for more than three days to share personal details and information about the vaccine administered.

“The general public is advised that this message did not originate with the Surveillance Unit of the Ministry of Health, and hence, is not an approved communication.”

Health officials advised the public to seek accurate information only from the Ministry of Health, the Office of the Prime Minister, the World Health Organization and the Pan American Health Organization, and to guard against receiving and sharing misinformation about COVID-19 and the vaccine.

Limited Availability of COVID-19 Vaccines

The limited supply of vaccines in the country has forced health officials to narrow down inoculation to Bahamian citizens and permanent residents 18 years of age and over, and residents in the previously stated priority groups only.

The Prime Minister’s Office released a statement on Monday evening saying that health officials are awaiting the arrival of more vaccines in the country before the end of May so that all residents will be eligible to receive the jab.

The previously stated priority groups are:

  • Healthcare workers
  • Persons 50 years of age and older
  • Persons with disabilities
  • Uniformed branches (RBDF, RBPF, COVID Ambassadors, BDOCS, Customs and Immigration)
  • Teachers and staff of schools
  • Hospitality workers (hotel and resort employees, public transportation workers, Lynden Pindling International Airport (LPIA), Nassau Airport Development (NAD)Co., Nassau Cruise Port (NCP), straw market, port, and beach vendors, and tour operators
  • Restaurant and retail workers
  • Students and athletes studying or competing abroad, coaches, and other support
  • Home-bound physically disabled residents
  • Members of the clergy; and
  • Accredited media (editors, reporters/anchors, photographers, and videographers).

Proof of citizenship, permanent residency status or a work ID will be required at the vaccination site. Failure to present the requested ID will result in appointment cancellation..

Persons who have already received a first dose of the vaccine will be eligible to receive the second dose which is scheduled to begin on May 10.


Only Fully Vaccinated People Can Go Back to Normal

Prime Minister Hubert Minnis said once people are fully vaccinated they can commence a form of normal life.

In an address in the House of Assembly on Wednesday, Minnis pushed for people to get the vaccine, emphasizing that complete vaccination is necessary if the economy and health of the country is to return to normalcy.

Why it matters

The government is seeking to expand the COVID-19 vaccine access, as the country sees an increase in COVID-19 cases with the identification of new strains.

21,907 doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine have been administered to Bahamians since the beginning of inoculation on March 4.

16,934 doses have been administered on New Providence; 3,512 doses on Grand Bahama; 832 on Abaco and 638 on Eleuthera.

The big picture

So far, the Bahamas has received a total of 53,600 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

20,000 doses were donated by the Government of India.

33,600 doses were received through the COVAX Facility with the assistance of the Pan American Health Organization.

The Bahamas is scheduled to receive an additional 67,200 vaccines through the COVAX Facility.

The country will receive the second tranche of AstraZeneca vaccines through the COVAX Facility before the end of May.

What Minnis said

Dr. Minnis said once people are fully vaccinated, they can participate in a closed environment, “once all are fully vaccinated.”

Minnis said indoor dining and work in the Junkanoo shacks can resume for those who are fully vaccinated.

Minnis added that travelers within the Bahamas who have been fully vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus will be exempted from COVID-19 test requirements that are currently in place when traveling from New Providence, Grand Bahama, Abaco, Exuma and Eleuthera.

These travelers will be exempted immediately after full vaccination. Proof of full vaccination will be required.

Effective 1st May, those traveling to the Bahamas from outside of the country, will be exempted from a COVID-19 test if they are fully vaccinated and have passed the two-week immunity period.

Proof of full vaccination will be required.

To be clear if an individual is not fully vaccinated that individual will still be required to provide a negative COVID-19 test where testing requirements are in place, Minnis said.

Govt’ to Secure More Vaccines in the Fight Against COVID-19

Minister of Health Renward Wells assured that the government is working to secure additional vaccines from approved providers, in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

He made the statement on Wednesday, during the Ministry of Health’s COVID-19 Update Press Conference.

Wells noted that through PAHO, the Bahamas scheduled to receive an additional 67,200 vaccines through the COVAX Facility.

Why it matters

The Bahamas has received a total of 53,600 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine. Out of that, 20,000 doses were received as a gift from the Government of India and 33,600 doses were received through the COVAX Facility with the assistance of the PAHO.

“The government continues to work on all fronts to secure additional vaccines from approved providers,” Minister Wells said.

Driving the news

To date, more than 10,000 first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered to Bahamians and residents. Over 1,000 individuals are being vaccinated per day and health care workers are actively working to increase this number, he added.

Vaccines have been administered at centres in New Providence, Grand Bahama and Eleuthera. Additional centres have opened to include a wider range of individuals namely teachers and staff of schools, the physically disabled, those in the hospitality industry and students and athletes studying abroad.

As of Tuesday, there were 26 newly confirmed cases of COVID-19. This brings the total number of confirmed cases in the Bahamas to 9,296. The total number of confirmed COVID-19 deaths now stands at 189.

(BIS Photo/Patrick Hanna)

Second Batch of AstraZeneca Vaccine Arrives in Country

More than 33,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine arrived in the country today, accessed through the WHO/PAHO COVAX Facility.

Prime Minister Hubert Minnis and members of the National COVID-19 Vaccine Consultative Committee were on hand to receive the shipment of the 33,600 doses which arrived at 11 am today.

Why it matters

This is the second batch of AstraZeneca vaccine to arrive in the country. The first batch of 20,000 doses was donated by India, which saw the inoculation of over seven thousand Bahamians.

The big picture

The AstraZeneca vaccine has received its share of criticism, nationally and internationally as nearly a dozen European countries temporarily halted its use as blood clot concerns grew among a small group of people inoculated by the vaccine.

These countries have since resumed the use of the vaccine after the European Medicines Agency (EMA) said its initial investigation has concluded that the vaccine is “safe and effective.”

What Minnis says today

Minnis admonished Bahamians to come forward quickly to get vaccinated when they are eligible to do so, insisting that the vaccine is the pathway to opening the economy and the creation of more jobs.

“It is dangerous to delay taking the vaccine in a global health crisis. As you wait, you can get infected by the virus. You can then end up in the hospital with permanent health issues or worst, it could kill you.

“The virus remains dangerous and is random in who it infects. Having COVID-19 can set you back for days, weeks, or many, many years.

“The only way out of the pandemic is through vaccination,” he said.

To prevent a third wave, Minnis advised Bahamians to receive the vaccination.

BCC Executives Receive First Dose of COVID-19 Vaccine

President of the Bahamas Christian Council (BCC) Bishop Delton Fernander and First Vice-President Pastor Mario Moxey received their first dose of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine on Monday after presenting a report stating that the benefits of getting the vaccine far outweigh the disadvantages.

First Vice-President Pastor Mario Moxey gets inoculated.

The clergymen along with their wives received their first dose of the vaccine at Loyola Hall, joining hundreds of Bahamians being inoculated.

The big picture

Many Bahamians are skeptical of the vaccine with some questioning its connection to the biblical prophecies.  Many have waited for an official stance from the religious group.

Why it matters

BCC says it has conducted its own research and interviews, stating that it is well within reason that the WHO’s validation of the emergency use of the COVID19 vaccine is warranted. The organization added that there is insufficient theological evidence to support that the vaccine is directly connected to the fulfillment of end-time prophecy and the mark of the beast.

COVID-19 Vaccines From Covax Facility Expected to Arrive in Country This Week

The Bahamas is expected to receive the promised vaccine paid for by the government in December of last year.

In a statement released by the National COVID-19 Vaccine Consultative Committee, 33,600 doses of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine obtained through the COVAX Facility will arrive in the country this week.

Why it matters

The government said it was expected to receive 33,600 doses out of 100,800 doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine purchased through the World Health Organisation’s/Pan American Health Organisation’s COVAX facility before the end of March.

The remaining 64,200 doses are expected to be in the country by the end of May.

The big picture

In November, Health Minister Renward Wells said the government had put a down payment down of $250,000 so far to source a vaccine from PAHO. But had committed $2 million to vaccinate 20 percent of the country’s population.

Worth noting

The batch represents the first tranche of a total of 100,800 doses earmarked for The Bahamas and pre-paid through the PAHO Revolving Fund.

The Bahamas received its first batch of COVID-19 vaccines on 10 March, which included 20,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine donated by the Government of India to the people of The Bahamas.

Since the COVID-19 vaccination program began on 14 March, more than 7,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine have been administered on New Providence and Grand Bahama.

The highest number of COVID-19 vaccinations administered on a single day totaled more than 1,000.

To date, 63 percent of those who have received the vaccine are over the age of 60. Others include healthcare workers and staff of the uniformed branches. Forty-two percent of persons who received the vaccine were male and 58 percent, female.

Sands Receives ‘the Jab’ After Vaccine Hesitancy

Former Minister of Health Duane Sands received his first dose of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine today.

Sands enthusiastically posted ‘the jab’ to his social media page.

Why it matters

Sands resigned as Minister of Health amid the COVID-19 pandemic and has since opposed the emergency orders imposed by the competent authority.  When the topic of vaccination arose in January, Sands questioned the rapidity of the vaccine saying the Bahamas should be cautious and complete its own investigation into the vaccines.

Then earlier this month, Sands said he endorses the use of vaccines in the Bahamas after examining the data and asking “serious questions.”

After acknowledging his reservations about vaccines, Sands said in the House of Assembly, “… right now, you have to go with what you can get — not go with the best, go with what you can get.”

Rollout of COVID-19 Vaccination Campaign to Begin on Wednesday

The distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine in the Bahamas will begin on Wednesday on New Providence and Grand Bahama, the National COVID-19 Vaccine Consultative Committee announced today.

Individuals eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine in this first phase include:

  • healthcare workers in the public sector, and private sector healthcare workers participating in the vaccination rollout;
  • residents and staff of eldercare homes and non-ambulatory residents registered in the public health system; and
  • staff of the uniformed branches (Royal Bahamas Defence Force, the Royal Bahamas Police Force, Bahamas Department of Corrections, Bahamas Customs and the Department of Immigration).

Appointments are not required for residents and staff of eldercare homes and non-ambulatory residents, who will be vaccinated by COVID-19 Vaccine Mobile Units.

The appointment system will go live on Tuesday morning, for healthcare workers and uniformed staff members beginning with the Royal Bahamas Defence Force, on New Providence and Grand Bahama.

Eligible healthcare workers and uniformed branch staff will be informed within their respective institutions as to how to make their appointments.

All eligible vaccine candidates in this first phase will be required to present an ID code generated by the appointment system and valid government-issued identification at the vaccination site.

Starting Wednesday, vaccinations will be administered at public health institutions, including the Princess Margaret Hospital and the Rand Memorial Hospital, and Doctors Hospital, and the vaccination site at Loyola Hall on New Providence for Community Health providers.

Those required for the continuity of Government, including Government officials, will be vaccinated during this initial effort.

A pilot of the vaccination process was conducted on Sunday at Loyola Hall, Gladstone Road to ensure a smooth rollout.

A group of 110 individuals took part in Sunday’s pilot. The group consisted of healthcare workers, staff of the uniformed branches and volunteers working on the vaccination campaign, including data entry clerks, vaccinators, medical observers and other volunteers.

Prime Minister Hubert Minnis receives the jab on Sunday.
Mrs. Patricia Minnis joins Dr Minnis in receiving the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Prime Minister Hubert Minnis, Mrs. Patricia and Minister of Health Hon. Renward Wells also received the vaccine on Sunday.

As the COVID-19 vaccination program progresses, members of the public will be notified in advance of eligibility to make their appointments to receive the vaccine.

More information will be provided as it relates to the rollout in the Family Islands in short order.

The Bahamas is expected to receive an additional 33,600 COVID-19 vaccine doses before the end of March through the COVAX Facility. A further tranche of approximately 66,000 vaccines is expected to arrive by the end of May.

The government continues to work on all fronts to secure additional safe vaccines from approved providers.

Minnis and Wife Get Vaccinated Too

An exuberant Prime Minister Hubert Minnis and his wife Patricia received a dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine today.

After receiving his shot, Minnis dispelled rumours about the vaccine and said receiving the vaccine is one step to getting the Bahamas back to normal.  Minnis said he wishes for the country to get back to normal by June.

“…You cannot feel it. Individuals need not be afraid.

“It is essential. There has been fake news. Millions have been vaccinated without problems. I took mine. There was no fear. Take it so our counry can get back to normal, people can get back to work and students can get back to school.”

Minnis assures that the vaccine is safe and will save lives.

Fear arose after some European countries temporarily suspended the use of the AstraZeneca due to blood clot concerns. After the concerns, European Medicines Agency (EMA) said “There is currently no indication that vaccination has caused these conditions, which are not listed as side effects with this vaccine.”

Health Minister Renward Wells also received the jab.

They joined Public Health Nurse, Sister Ruth Bastian and Public Health Advisor Dr. Merceline Dahl-Regis who were the first two people vaccinated.

20,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine were donated by India on Wednesday.