COVID-19 focus causes immunizations drop

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — The Bahamas has seen a decrease in its number of immunizations, said Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis yesterday, who warned of the risks of a meltdown of the Bahamian healthcare system.

Minnis, who gave a communication in Parliament on the ongoing mitigation COVID-19 efforts, indicated that the focus on the virus has impacted the country’s ability to administer vaccinations.

“We have not had a meltdown,” he said.

“We’ve had a limited number of cases and our facilities were used to manage the COVID cases that we’ve had.

“In spite of that, because we were so overwhelmed and dealing with COVID, our immunization numbers had subsequently decreased.

“The percentage rate that we were immunizing our population has now decreased because we were so focused on dealing with COVID-19. We have not had a meltdown, but our rates have deteriorated.”

Minnis noted that this means the country is now predisposed to a high incidence of a number of diseases including Mumps, Rubella, Measles and Polio.

“We are at greater risk for measles,” he said.

“We are at greater risk for rubella. What it also means is because we are greater risk at rubella, our young people who become pregnant would be at greater risk of having abnormal infants. That’s where we at today, and we don’t have a meltdown.”

The prime minister advised that health officials are devising an aggressive plan to get infants and others the necessary vaccinations.

“We don’t want to go down that road…If we have a meltdown, God help us.”

The country reopened its borders to international flights on July 1.

Health officials yesterday confirmed two additional cases of COVID-19 today on Grand Bahama, taking the number of cases to 106.

Minnis once again encourage Bahamians to follow the advice of health officials by practicing social distancing and washing their hands frequently.

He warned that just one well-placed confirmed case could undo the efforts to arrest community spread and possibly topple the healthcare system.

“It means that you will have no beds for sick patients because your hospital is being utilized for all COVID-19 cases,” Minnis insisted.

“It means that all elective cases are canceled and you have difficulty even performing emergency cases.

“It means that our routine maternity cases cannot be cared for properly and babies can be born at home or whatever because your hospital is in a meltdown.

“It also means that our kids who need hospitalization with care, there will be no facility for them.”

The prime minister added: “It’s essential that we make difficult and hard decisions now to save our future.”