NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Former Governor General Sir Arthur Foulkes said he will take Oxford’s AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine when it becomes available in The Bahamas, and encouraged Bahamians to follow suit.
When asked if he planned to take the vaccine, which is expected to arrive in-country by the end of the week, Foulkes told Eyewitness News: “Yes, absolutely.
“Once we get vaccines that are approved by the World Health Organization (WHO) and have gone through the processes, I would take it, yes.
“And I think it would be a good thing for everybody to take it.”
Foulkes is 92 and will celebrate his 93rd birth in May.
While the government originally planned to limit the AstraZeneca vaccine to adults under the age of 65, it later determined the vaccine will be administered to those over 65 after the WHO recommended its use for all adults who choose to take it.
It is estimated individuals over the age of 65 make up just over seven percent of the population.
A total of 100,000 doses of the vaccine are expected to arrive in-country before week’s end, according to Minister of Health Renward Wells.
The first tranche will be used to administer the first dose of the vaccine to 100,000 people, beginning with “priority groups” including healthcare workers, the uniformed branches and older care providers.
While the Police Staff Association has said officers will follow the advice of medical professionals on the vaccine, healthcare professionals, including the Bahamas Nurses Union, the Consultants Physicians Staff Association and laboratory staff, have expressed some hesitancy with taking the vaccine at this time, indicating that more data is needed.
When asked whether this hesitancy among healthcare workers, which has challenged vaccine programs in other jurisdictions, was cause for concern, the former governor general said he did not wish to speak specifically to those expressions.
“I would just leave it stating my position,” he said.
“…I would certainly take the vaccine and, as I said, once it is approved by WHO, I have no hesitation in taking it.
“And I would advise Bahamians to take it… It is a necessary step for our recovery to fight the pandemic; and also, eventually, our economic recovery.
“But I do not want to quarrel with those who have different ideas.”