vaccine

Monday, January 25, 2021

vaccine

Minnis Hints at Extension of Emergency Order Until Vaccine Availability

In Prime Minister Hubert Minnis’s New Years National address on Wednesday, many Bahamians expected an announcement of relaxation of COVID-19 measures.

Instead, Minnis cautioned a tightening of measures if the COVID-19 cases rise before the arrival of vaccines into the country.

“It is possible that cases will rise again before vaccines arrive,” he said. “If this happens, as a government and people, we will have to return to some of the measures that worked to beat back previous waves.

“Through our experience during the pandemic year, we now know the formula that works. Tough times do not scare us. Difficult circumstances do not break our resolve,” he said.

Some social media posters were critical of the address, asking for Dr. Minnis to address when the COVID-19 restrictions will be further relaxed.

However, Minnis emphasized in his address that the reopening of the country depends on the successful distribution of the vaccine, which he expects in the coming months.

“Thankfully, because there are now successful vaccines for COVID-19, our country, and our economy, are set to reopen more fully in the months ahead.

“The end is in sight. Restrictions will end. We will get back to our way of life. Jobs and the economy, are coming back, he promised.

This means the emergency order is expected to extend beyond January 31, 2021.

In November of last year, the House of Assembly passed a resolution for a two-month extension of the emergency order.

Minnis at the time said when the emergency orders help in lowering cases, the restrictive measures will be reversed, permitting residents to live a more normal life.

Minnis Sets His Eyes On Reopening Fully With Successful Vaccine Distribution

As the country awaits its share of the COVID-19 vaccines, Prime Minister Hubert Minnis announced an appointment of the COVID-19 Vaccine National Consultative Committee to ensure the proper distribution of the vaccine when it becomes available.

In his New Year National Address on Tuesday evening, Minnis said the vaccines will ensure a reopening of the country in the coming months.

The Committee is chaired by Dr. Merceline Dahl-Regis, OD, CMG, and is made up of public health experts, and representatives of various sectors, including, religious and community leaders.

Why it matters?

Successful vaccines like Pfizer-BioNtech, Moderna, and Oxford University-AstraZeneca are now available on the world market.

The Bahamas has already secured vaccines for 20% of the population, through the COVAX Facility and World Health and Pan American Health Organisations.

The Bahamas awaits its share.

Minnis on restrictions and vaccine availability

  • Dr. Minnis did not say exactly when the restrictions and curfews will be relaxed, but he said he is targetting the coming months.

“Thankfully, because there are now successful vaccines for COVID-19, our country, and our economy, are set to reopen more fully in the months ahead.

“The end is in sight. Restrictions will end. We will get back to our way of life. Jobs and the economy, are coming back.

  • Minnis, aware that variants of COVID-19 have evolved in countries around the world, he said if the variants come into the country, the Bahamian people can expect tighter measures to fight the infection.

“We still have a few more months to go, especially as the pandemic continues to rage, in countries all around us.

“Internationally, more infectious variants of the virus have evolved, and been detected. It is possible, that cases will rise again before vaccines arrive. If this happens, as a Government and people, we will have to return, to some of the measures that worked, to beat back previous waves. Through our experience during the pandemic year, we now know the formula that works,” Minnis said.

Wells Assures Safe Roll-Out of COVID-19 Vaccine

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

 

Govt Won’t Propose COVID-19 Vaccine for Children

The Ministry of Health is setting the record straight following Health Minister Renward Wells’ assertion that the government is making a decision on whether or not students will be administered the COVID-19 vaccine to return to in-person learning.

The Ministry of Health in a statement said definitively, that children will not be given the COVID-19 vaccine.

“No one under the age of 18 years of age, including children in The Bahamas, will be administered the COVID-19 vaccine.”

Why it matters

Renward Wells, in an impromptu press briefing, said officials were in discussion about the administration of the vaccine to students while promising to come back to the Bahamian people with the final decision, acknowledging that some vaccines are required, while others, like the flu vaccines are not required.

The big picture

Many Bahamians are apprehensive about the COVID-19 vaccine since the onset of the pandemic.

What the ministry of health says

  • The ministry said “Although the government of the Bahamas has been proactive in securing mechanisms that will give the Bahamian people access to this much-needed vaccine, the Ministry of Health underscores that administration of the COVID-19 vaccine is entirely voluntary. In other words, only those who wish to receive the vaccine can avail themselves of it.
  • The Ministry further states that it will continue to comport with best practice and international standards on medical and public health matters. This extends to the age recommendations for the COVID-19 vaccine administration. From current knowledge, the approved age range for the
        • Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine is 16 years and older; and
        • Moderna is 18 years and older
  • The ministry notes the global scientific clinical trials currently underway to determine/study the safety and efficacy of this vaccine in persons 12 to 17 years of age. We assure the Bahamian people that COVID-19 vaccination among children will not be offered within this sub-population until evidence suggests it is safe to do so, and with the consent of parents and guardians.

The Bahamas Is Closer to a COVID-19 Vaccine. Will You Be Vaccinated?

As the world fights to develop and mass-produce an effective vaccine against the coronavirus, the Bahamas is seeking to secure enough vaccine to help fight the virus in the country.

Like many governments around the world, the Bahamas’ government is hoping the vaccine will assist in returning daily life to normalcy.

What is the status of the COVID-19 vaccine for the Bahamas?

Health Minister Renward Wells announced that the Cabinet of the Bahamas has approved vaccination for 20 percent of the population through the World Health Organisation via the Pan American Health Organisation.

Wells said the Bahamas will make a down payment of $2 million to ensure 80,000 people including front line workers and the country’s most vulnerable, are vaccinated.

The country is expected to receive the vaccines in the first phase of the distribution, he said.

Wells said all countries are required to make a down payment on the vaccines.

How does a vaccine work?

According to the WHO, vaccines save millions of lives each year, and work to prepare the immune system to recognize and fight off the virus.

If the body is exposed to the virus, the body is immediately ready to destroy them, preventing illness, the WHO says.

Vaccines have been used to prevent numerous life-threatening diseases like diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, influenza and measles.

WHO says currently there are over 169 COVID-19 vaccine candidates under development, with 26 of these in the human trial phase.

The health organization says it is working with scientists, business, and global health organizations to speed up the pandemic response.

When a safe and effective vaccine is found, WHO says it will facilitate the equitable access and distribution of these vaccines to protect people in all countries. People most at risk will be prioritized.