PLANE REACH: 33,600 AstraZeneca doses arrive from COVAX

PLANE REACH: 33,600 AstraZeneca doses arrive from COVAX
The Bahamas receives a third tranche of AstraZeneca vaccines through the COVAX Facility on Tuesday, August 3, 2021. (BIS/PATRICK HANNA)

PM advises vaccination centers will expand next week with shored-up supplies

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — The more than 33,000 doses of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines that arrived in The Bahamas yesterday morning will allow an “aggressive” expansion of vaccination sites and appointments, which have been limited in recent weeks due to lack of supplies.

Yesterday’s shipment of doses was the third tranche of vaccine doses from the World Health Organization’s COVAX Facility, and represents 100,800 doses from the mechanism to date.

Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis (center) and Pan American Health Organization (PAHO)/World Health Organization (WHO) Representative for The Bahamas and Turks and Caicos Dr Eldonna Boisson (right). (BIS/PATRICK HANNA)

Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis announced yesterday at Jet Nassau following the arrival of the 33,600 doses: “Starting today, now that we have more vaccines and as part of the continued aggressive rollout of vaccines, more appointments for first and second doses will be made available on New Providence and Grand Bahama.”

Second doses will continue to be administered at Loyola Hall on Gladstone Road on Thursday and Friday, while Church of God of Prophecy on East Street will open next Monday.

Next Tuesday, Baha Mar will resume vaccinations at its convention center, and St Anselm’s Church Hall will resume the following day for first and second doses via appointments.

Walk-ups will be facilitated at both church facilities.

Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis (right) and Minister of Health Renward Wells. (BIS/PATRICK HANNA)

A vaccination schedule is being worked on for the Family Islands.

The government continues to work with the United States government to receive a donation of vaccines, Minnis said.

“We are working hard to prepare to receive additional vaccines,” he noted, adding that the US Embassy in Nassau donated four ultra-cold freezers, which are used to store vaccines that require ultra-low temperatures such as Pfizer.

According to Minnis, the government will return 5,000 vaccine doses that were borrowed from Antigua and Barbuda in late June.

The government has also received a donation of 3,496 vaccine doses from Montserrat and Anguilla and a donation of 20,000 doses from the government of India.

Yesterday, Minnis, an obstetrician and gynecologist, announced that he will join healthcare workers and assist with the vaccination effort “wherever they need me to help administer vaccines”.

This follows his announcement last week that around 111 nurses and nearly 50 doctors will be engaged to shore up capacity amid a shortage of healthcare professionals to fight COVID.

He said Cabinet discussed and decided on the matter.

The prime minister has been fully vaccinated.

He again appealed for retired medical professionals to step forward and volunteer with the vaccination effort.

Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis receives his second dose of the Oxford AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine at the Kendal GL Isaacs National Gymnasium on Monday, May 10, 2021. (BIS PHOTO)

Fewer than 50,000 people had been fully vaccinated in The Bahamas as of Saturday.

A total of 61,803 people have received one dose, for a total of 108,596.

After two doses of AstraZeneca, efficacy of the vaccine is around 92 percent, substantially lowering the chance of severe illness, hospitalization and death.

But the benefits have not motivated larger numbers to take the jab.

The number of fully vaccinated people in the country stands at around 11 percent.

In an urgent appeal for residents to become vaccinated, the prime minister maintained that people who remain hospitalized and those who have died were unvaccinated.

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”.