NASSAU, BAHAMAS — In keeping with its goal to ensure all Bahamians are vaccinated, the Ministry of Health, with the support of the United States government, transported a second tranche of COVID-19 vaccine to the Family Islands on Monday, June 21, 2021.
The vaccines were transported by the Rhode Island National Guard (RING), which has the mandate to fight American wars, secure the homeland and build enduring partnerships around the globe.
During the send-off at Odyssey Aviation, Minister of Health Renward Wells said: “The Bahamas government is most grateful for their willingness to form a partnership through the United States Embassy with our country. This kind gesture today comes at a time when our country is still vulnerable to the effects of Hurricane Dorian and the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Wells observed that The Bahamas, being an archipelagic nation, oftentimes is unable to have Bahamians benefit from resources at the same time.
“When governmental resources are low, this can be a challenge,” he said.
The vaccines were deployed to Kemp’s Bay, Nicholls Town, Fresh Creek and Mangrove Cay in Andros; Mayaguana; Inagua; Crooked Island; and Acklins. Healthcare workers and international volunteers also traveled to the islands to carry out the vaccine inoculation rollout process.
“At this time, the COVID-19 vaccine is another urgent resource we must ensure Bahamians have access to during this COVID-19 pandemic,” Wells said.
During the first tranche of the vaccines received by the COVAX Facility with the assistance of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), the Rhode Island National Guard played a pivotal role a few months ago in organizing flights to transport vaccines to Bahamians in the Family Islands.
“Although in The Bahamas receiving the COVID-19 vaccination is still not a governmental mandate, we continue to actively encourage all Bahamians to become vaccinated,” the health minister said.
He added: “We recognize that delays in the uptake of the vaccine by those eligible could place our entire Bahamian population at risk; risks that not only involve COVID-19 infections, but can result in severe illness and death.
“Vaccinations can eliminate economic challenges brought on by measures taken to contain the spread of COVID-19, and prevent delays in restarting our tourism economy.”
Currently, there have been 79,246 doses of the vaccine administered to Bahamians. There will be some 7,640 more doses of vaccines deployed in approximately 13 of the Family Islands this week, Wells confirmed.
Yesterday, on June 22, residents of Long Island, Cat Island, San Salvador, Exuma and the Berry Islands received COVID-19 vaccine doses.
Eleuthera and Rum Cay can expect to receive some vaccines on today, and Bimini will receive their supply on Friday, June 25.
“This alliance will result in more jabs in arms to get the country back on its feet to open our economy to once again be a thriving nation,” Wells said.
He thanked the United States government on behalf of Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minister, who was in the House of Assembly wrapping up the 2021/22 budget debate.
Usha Pitts, chargé d’affaires of the United States Embassy in Nassau, was present for the send-off and alluded to the strong partnership between The Bahamas and the United States.
Also present were Ed Fields, co-chair of the COVID-19 Vaccine Consultative Committee; Rear Admiral Daniel “Undra” Cheever, director of strategy, policy and plans, North American Aerospace Defense Command and United States Northern Command; Major General Michelle M Rose, director of logistics, North American Aerospace Defense Command and United States Northern Command; Major General Christopher P Callahan, adjutant general, Rhode Island Cranston, Rhode Island; and Commander Self, senior defense official/defense attaché.