Minnis, Wells and Dahl-Regis also among those vaccinated
NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Ruth Bastian, a nurse of more than 45 years, became the first person in The Bahamas to be vaccinated with the Oxford AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine yesterday as the government rolled out its vaccine program to healthcare professionals at Loyola Hall on Gladstone Road.
Attendees clapped as Bastian was vaccinated and then ushered into an observation area.
“I’m a healthcare worker and one of my duties is to promote healthy living, healthy lifestyle and health prevention and promotion, and immunization is one of those avenues where we can promote healthy living, and you have to put your money where your mouth is,” Bastian said.
“If I am promoting it, there is no way I can sit back and say I am going to wait to see what other people do. I need to be in the forefront, making sure that people see when I say immunizations are important in our country to help improve our health, that I do it myself.”
Bastian sought to allay fears concerning the safety of the vaccines donated from India, noting that India is one of the largest producers of the COVID-19 vaccine.
She told Eyewitness News: “I was excited because I know we’re making history in The Bahamas today with the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccination.
“This is a really a momentous occasion in our country for all of us as healthcare workers who will be starting the campaign going.”
After receiving her first dose of the vaccine, Bastian was required to sit in an observation area for 15 minutes to evaluate whether there were any early side effects such as headache or fatigue.
But she said she felt great, standing as she spoke.
“No side effect; I feel like 15 minutes prior to the inoculation,” she said.
“I feel fine. My advice is to try and make sure you come as soon as possible when your opportunity, your priority grouping reaches you.”
The hall on the Aquinas College compound was outfitted with nurses’ stations, an observation area and defense force marines guarding the perimeter — a measure to protect the doses of the vaccine.
The government received 20,000 donated doses of AstraZeneca from India last Wednesday.
Health consultant in the Office of the Prime Minister Dr Merceline Dahl-Regis was also vaccinated yesterday morning, telling the media after her 15-minute observation period that she felt great and was excited to be able to travel soon to see her grandchildren.
Dahl-Regis, the head of the National COVID-19 Vaccine Consultative Committee, said: “I am so excited because I am looking at the whole country returning to some sense of normalcy, and personally, I would like to be able to see my kids and grandkids and travel to go and see them.
“I also want to have that assurance that when I travel or whenever I go, even if I get COVID, I am not going to get sick. I’m [not] going to need hospitalization and the prospects are great for survival.
“I would like to share with each of you that I had a neighbor who was a physician who died, and I said this morning, if only we had this vaccine 15 months ago, we would have saved at least 181 lives.”
Several other private sector nurses turned up for vaccination.
The government will distribute all 20,000 doses of the vaccine to an equal number of people as a first dose.
AstraZeneca is a two-dose vaccine.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends receiving the second dose within four to 12 weeks of the first dose.
The Bahamas is expected to receive just over 33,000 doses of AstraZeneca through the COVAX Facility before the end of the month, and another 60,000-plus doses before the end of May.
According to available data, the vaccine provides an up to 76 percent effectiveness against the virus after the first dose.
That effectiveness increases to around 82 to 89 percent upon receiving a second dose.
Health officials have pointed out that protection against the virus becomes effective 14 days after being vaccinated.