KEEP IT ROLLING: Govt expands vaccine eligibility while insisting no evidence of blood clots

KEEP IT ROLLING: Govt expands vaccine eligibility while insisting no evidence of blood clots

Ministry of Health: There have been no reports of serious side effects”

More than 15,000 vaccinations administered so far

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — As rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine continues, the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) yesterday announced expansion of the list of those eligible to include anyone 50 years old and over, restaurant workers, retail workers and people with disabilities and their caregivers.

The expansion comes as The Bahamas seeks to inoculate 80 percent of the population and as health officials grapple with vaccine hesitancy among some members of society.

Governor General CA Smith receives his first dose of the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine at Loyola Hall, Gladstone Road, last month.

The OPM statement noted that vaccination appointments can be made via the website for the Kendal G L Isaacs National Gymnasium; Loyola Hall, Gladstone Road; Church of God of Prophecy, East Street; Baha Mar; Atlantis, Paradise Island; and the Susan J Wallace Community Center, Grand Bahama.

Vaccines are being administered at Stapledon School on Dolphin Drive exclusively for individuals with disabilities; while homebound, physically-challenged residents can register with the COVID-19 Vaccine Mobile Unit by emailing or by calling 242-376-9017.

Residents without internet access are able to make walk-up appointments at the Church of God of Prophecy, East Street, exclusively.

According to the OPM statement, more than 15,000 people on New Providence, Grand Bahama and Eleuthera have been vaccinated to-date; and that an update on the rollout on Abaco, which began last week, will be forthcoming.

Meanwhile, a separate statement from the Ministry of Health encouraged those who have been vaccinated to report alleged side effects as soon as possible.

This follows Dr Kevin Bethel of Family Wellness Centre on Grand Bahama on Thursday claiming in a widely circulated voice note that he had to perform an emergency procedure to save his wife’s life when she started experiencing blood clots after taking the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine.

He also said he and his son were both ill after getting the shot.

In a press conference the day before, however, the Ministry of Health said that as of April 4, there were 69 individuals, or under one percent, who reported one or more side effects after being vaccinated.

The ministry said typical side effects included fatigue, nausea, headache, fever, chills and muscle pain, which are generally resolved in a few days.

A Ministry of Health graph presented during a press conference on Wednesday, April 7, 2021, shows the frequency of side effects in individuals who have received their first dose of the Oxford AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine.

Its statement last night read: “Reporting events supposedly attributable to vaccination or immunization (ESAVI) after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine is essential. These reports assist the Ministry of Health to investigate and determine if the stated symptoms are definitively related to vaccination and provide any necessary support to the person who is experiencing the symptoms.

“The public is reminded that events after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine must be reported to the Ministry of Health immediately by calling the telephone number 818-2975.”

It reiterated the side effect data presented during the most recent press conference and noted: “There have been no reports to the Ministry of Health of allergic reactions, blood clots, post-vaccination hospitalizations or deaths.

“The public is encouraged to obtain health information from reliable sources such as the Ministry of Health, the Office of the Prime Minister, the World Health Organization and the Pan American Health Organization.

“Beware of receiving and/or sharing misinformation about COVID-19 and the vaccine. The circulation of misinformation threatens public health efforts and can be harmful to a person’s physical and mental health.”

Those eligible to receive the vaccine now include:

  • Healthcare workers;
  • Citizens and residents 50 years of age and older;
  • People with disabilities;
  • Members of the uniformed branches;
  • Teachers and staff of schools;
  • Hospitality workers, including hotel and resort employees, public transportation workers, Lynden Pindling International Airport workers, Nassau Airport Development company workers, Nassau Cruise Port personnel, straw market vendors, port and beach vendors and tour operators;
  • Restaurant and retail workers;
  • Students and athletes studying or competing abroad, coaches and other support;
  • Homebound, physically-disabled residents;
  • Members of the clergy; and
  • Accredited media (editors, reporters/anchors, photographers and videographers).