NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Bahamas Public Services Union (BPSU) Kimsley Ferguson said he has concerns about the COVID-19 AstraZeneca vaccine and will await more empirical data from the Ministry of Health on its efficacy and potential risks before recommending for public servants to vaccinate themselves.
In an interview with Eyewitness News, the BPSU president said: “I am concerned if there are any side effects. I am not satisfied we have been fully appraised by the impact that this vaccine is going to have on Bahamians or any human being for that matter.
“I don’t know whether or not the things that we’ve been seeing on social media in relation [to the] vaccine are genuine, but they do raise some concerns.
“Then, the other concern is, it’s a vaccine, but it does not create resistance that would stop you [indefinitely] from catching COVID. It is only something to say that you’ve been vaccinated and if COVID comes it probably will act like a little flu, so I do have some concerns.
“I am not satisfied that the Bahamian public has been properly advised or appraised of the vaccine.
“I am of the view that there should have been some sort of discussion surrounding the vaccine publicly, so that people can be properly advised.”
Ferguson said he hopes the government will see fit to engage in widespread consultation on the vaccine in earnest.
According to the union president, there has not been sufficient information provided to the Bahamian public from local officials.
“You getting something and someone is making an appeal to you to take it, but you don’t know anything about it,” Ferguson said.
“…Unless I am satisfied sufficiently enough, ain’t nobody injecting nothing into me.”
The Bahamas is expected to get 100,000 doses of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine in two tranches, beginning in the middle of this month, according to National Vaccine Consultative Committee Chair Dr Merceline Dahl-Regis.
The committee is in the process of finalizing its distribution plan.
The vaccine is expected to be rolled out to various groups within one to six weeks.
The government has maintained the vaccine will be free and offered on a voluntary basis.
Asked what would make him comfortable with the AstraZeneca vaccine, Ferguson said: “What would make me comfortable with any vaccine is having a greater knowledge of the side effects, the impact and its effectiveness in combating the global pandemic that we are faced with; that is, COVID-19.
“I am excited and I really want the country to open up.
“But, let me tell you something — I am just concerned in that regard.
“I need to know a little bit more, so I can say to my children ‘it is safe to go and do this’.
“We need more education on the vaccine and the impact it is going to have on us.”