In his first national press conference for 2021, Minister of Health Renward Wells announced the procurement of vaccines aimed at curbing the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the country.
The latest COVID-19 statistics revealed there were 7,969 cases throughout The Bahamas, as was disclosed during the press conference held Friday, January 8, 2021. Total COVID-19 hospitalizations continued on a downtrend and stood at 11, from 15 on January 1.
Wells said, “Now that COVID-19 vaccines have been produced, the Government of The Bahamas is working on all fronts to secure the vaccines. Currently, there are three authorized COVID-19 vaccines on the world market — Pfizer-BioNtech, Moderna, and Oxford University-AstraZeneca,” Minister Wells announced.
“Through the COVAX Facility and with the assistance of the World Health and Pan American Health Organizations, The Bahamas has presumptively secured enough doses to vaccinate 20% of our population once available,” Minister Wells, said.
Adding that, “the Government of The Bahamas assures its citizens and residents that the vaccines chosen for use will be safe and appropriate for distribution throughout our islands.”
And, to facilitate this distribution of a National COVID-19 Vaccine, Minister Wells also announced that a Strategic Plan has already been approved by Cabinet.
“A COVID-19 Vaccine National Consultative Committee has been established, by the Prime Minister, to safely introduce the COVID-19 vaccine in The Bahamas,” he said.
This committee will give advice to the Ministry of Health’s National Immunization Coordinating Committee (NICC) and the National Immunization Technical Working Group (NITWG). “Be assured, Government’s objective remains the same — to continually provide free vaccines, to all who wish to benefit from the protection that vaccination offers.
“Again, let me state the policy of the Government of the Bahamas: The COVID-19 Vaccine will be given without charge to the Bahamian people, and uptake of this vaccine, by the Bahamian people, will be completely voluntary,” Minister Wells said.
According to the minister, when a safe and effective vaccine is available in the country, the public will be informed and invited to receive the vaccine in specific groups, at no cost.
He also assured that the Ministry of Health’s Surveillance Team continues to monitor in-country virus trends, in anticipation of a possible third wave and maybe with a new variant in the mix.
The Minister thanked the public for adapting to the new ways of interacting.
“As the world continues to fight COVID-19, the methods may differ, but the commonality remains the same – the application of the preventative measures. Your continued adherence to these measures now can and will determine our national circumstances later,” he said.
By Lindsay Thompson/ BIS