DELAYED: Indian vaccines to arrive later in the week

DELAYED: Indian vaccines to arrive later in the week
(PHOTO: AFP)

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — The Bahamas is expected to receive its first tranche of COVID-19 vaccines from the Indian government by Wednesday and its second tranche from the World Health Organization/Pan American Health Organization (WHO/PAHO) by the end of March, announced Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis today.

During a national address, Minnis advised that while 20,000 vaccines were expected to arrive in country from India today, there was a slight delay due to “logistical issues”.

Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis delivers a national address on COVID-19 vaccines on Sunday, March 7, 2021. (BIS PHOTO/YONTALAY BOWE)

He said once those vaccines arrive, rollout is expected to begin just days later.

He further advised that The Bahamas will receive 33,600 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine before the end of March from WHO/PAHO.

Those doses are part of the 100,000 doses which were secured through The Bahamas’ pre-payment to the COVAX facility and which were expected to arrive by the end of last month.

Minnis said a remaining 64,200 doses through COVAX are expected to arrive in the country by the end of May 2021, accounting for a total of 97,800 doses.

He did not address the reason for a difference in the number of doses secured through the COVAX facility, but noted: “Vaccines are in extreme demand globally and are difficult to secure.

“This means we have to be prepared to adjust as necessary based on the availability of the vaccine.

“We have had to be flexible throughout the pandemic.

“It is important that we continue to exercise patience during this process.

“We are fortunate to receive these vaccines at this time.”

The prime minister added that the government is working aggressively and on several fronts to secure vaccines from approved providers as quickly as possible.

Minnis noted that due to the limited number of vaccines in the first tranche, the government will slightly deviate from its original plan.

He said those eligible to receive the first vaccine doses will include healthcare workers in the public and private sector, residents and staff of elder care homes and non-ambulatory residents registered in the public health system.

Healthcare workers will be vaccinated on-site at their respective institutions and will be able to make appointments online “within days of the arrival of the vaccine”.

Additionally, the vaccines will be administered in phases on New Providence, Grand Bahama and the Family Islands.

“The start of our vaccination campaign marks the beginning of the end of the emergency phase of the pandemic,” Minnis said.

“There will be challenges ahead. However, as we vaccinate increasing numbers of our people, we will gradually and responsibly move away from one of the most difficult periods in living memory.”

The prime minister also announced that at the appropriate time, the government will host a National Day of Remembrance and Thanksgiving to honor all those lost during the pandemic.