Laboratory staff: “I don’t think they are ready yet”
CPSA still “watching the trends”
NASSAU, BAHAMAS — At least two groupings of healthcare workers who have been on the frontlines of the fight against the coronavirus since last March have expressed mixed views about being vaccinated, with some expressing a need for more information on the full impact of AstraZeneca as The Bahamas prepares for its arrival.
In an interview with Eyewitness News, Consultant Physician Staff Association (CPSA) President Dr Sabriquet Pinder said consultant physicians, some of whom sit on certain subcommittees, are seeking to “tap in a bit more” with the Ministry of Health.
“So, we’re giving them some time as well, as well as the educational process or campaign that the ministry is planning to also engage in,” Pinder said.
“So, we’re giving some time to see how that will actually work out; meanwhile, also watching the trends and keeping up with the evidence-based [data] related to the vaccine.
“But I think because things are still fairly new with us being advised of the type of vaccine itself and trends that appear to be happening, we’re still watching the temperature before we are able to make a definitive point statement to that. At this moment in time, there are still mixed views related to the specific vaccine at this moment.”
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.
Pinder said the CPSA is hopeful The Bahamas can tap into whatever is the best management practices to mitigate the virus, “be it vaccine; be it medication, education…and prevention, and that sort of thing”.
“I think there are still a lot of smaller studies going on; people are still looking at how different groups may or may not be able to use the vaccine, especially our elderly population,” she added.
In a separate interview, Medical Microbiologist Dr Jessica Edwards said while some laboratory staff appears prepared to take the vaccine, some have more questions that make them “hesitant” at this time.
But Edwards said she believes those workers will be faster to vaccinate than the general public.
“From our side, it is still something that a lot of the staff is debating and thinking about; not that they are completely, 100 percent opposed to it.
“I think they have some more questions that they want to have answered, and for them, that makes them a little bit more hesitant.
“But the overall majority would say ‘OK, yes’.
“I think there is going to be an ease into it a little bit quicker than the general populous, but I don’t think they are ready yet.”
Edwards acknowledged that laboratory staff was still being canvassed on the matter for feedback.
The government has maintained the vaccine will be free and offered on a voluntary basis.
The Police Staff Association (PSA) has said officers will trust and follow the advice of medical professionals on the vaccine and are willing to take it.
Royal Bahamas Defence Force (RBDF) Commodore Raymond King is considering whether to make the vaccine mandatory for marines, though the RBDF is engaging in consultative meetings this week with its ranks.
Meanwhile, the Bahamas Public Services Union (BPSU), which represents thousands of public servants, has expressed concern about the lack of information disseminated to date.
BPSU President Kimsley Ferguson told Eyewitness News he was not satisfied the public has been fully appraised on the impact of the vaccine and will await more empirical data.