LOW YOUTH COVERAGE: Just over a third of minors aged 12-17 vaccinated against COVID

LOW YOUTH COVERAGE: Just over a third of minors aged 12-17 vaccinated against COVID

CDC data shows COVID vax coverage lowest among ages 5 to 17

Darville says more vaccines to arrive Thursday

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — With vaccine coverage among teenagers in The Bahamas hovering at just over 30 percent, the government intends to decentralize access to vaccines and push pop-ups in hopes of more than doubling that rate.

According to Minister of Health Dr Michael Darville, a total of 11,918 individuals between the age of 12 and 17 have been vaccinated, representing 31 percent of the age group in The Bahamas.

Minister of Health and Wellness Dr Michael Darville.

“We would like to improve upon that, but they are still classified as juveniles and still under the care of family members, so we are pleading to the adult population — mothers and fathers — to work to help us to get these kids between the ages of 12 and 17 vaccinated,” he said.

“We would like for that [figure] to go up to about 70 percent.

“We’re pushing very hard with the vaccination committee — you notice we’re doing pop-up sites and we’re starting to go into the private sector to decentralize the vaccination program because we have realized from the research that individuals are more receptive to have a vaccination after being distributed by their personal physician who they have a contact with.

“We’re going to decentralize and try to get vaccines to private facilities.”

COVID-19 vaccination rates among kids have been slow globally.

According to data released by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention last Friday, for the 12 to 17 age group in the United States, 66.9 percent have taken a first dose, while 56.8 percent have completed their vaccine series.

A look at the 18 to 24 grouping shows 75.8 percent coverage with the first dose and 61.4 percent fully vaccinated.

Among those 25 to 39 and 40 to 49, those figures are measurably higher respectively.

Rachel Outten, 13, shows up at Kendal GL Isaacs Gymnasium to receive her first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday, August 19, 2021.

Pediatric vaccines for those under 12 remain unavailable, though negotiations continue on the global market to acquire them, with “positive feedback”.

The government has not provided a breakdown of the more than 160,000 fully vaccinated individuals by age.

However, the nearly 12,000 vaccinated among 12 to 17-year-olds represents just under eight percent of total vaccinations in The Bahamas.

While it remains unclear how many doses of COVID-19 vaccines The Bahamas has in country, Darville said the existing supply is not expected to expire until May 31.

More pre-mixed vaccines, which have a longer shelf life, are expected to arrive in The Bahamas on Thursday.

Darville said these doses bode well with the government’s plans to move into the private sector with vaccine distribution.

About Royston Jones Jr.

Royston Jones Jr. is a senior digital reporter and occasional TV news anchor at Eyewitness News. Since joining Eyewitness News as a digital reporter in 2018, he has done both digital and broadcast reporting, notably providing the electoral analysis for Eyewitness News’ inaugural election night coverage, “Decision Now 2021”.