ROLL UP YOUR SLEEVE: PM makes pro-vaccine case to Bahamian public

ROLL UP YOUR SLEEVE: PM makes pro-vaccine case to Bahamian public
Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis receives his first dose of the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine on Sunday, March 14, 2021, at Loyola Hall. (BIS PHOTO/YONTALAY BOWE)

110 people vaccinated as of yesterday afternoon

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis yesterday made another case for Bahamians to take the COVID-19 vaccine that was rolled out to healthcare professionals yesterday morning, insisting it is an “essential” part of resuming business and social life in The Bahamas.

The prime minister, his wife, Patricia, and Minister of Health Renward Wells received their first doses of Oxford’s AstraZeneca yesterday afternoon around 2.30pm.

Patricia Minnis, wife of Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis, receives the vaccine yesterday at Loyola Hall. (BIS PHOTO/YONTALAY BOWE)

The government began administering the vaccine around 10am at Loyola Hall on Gladstone Road, inoculating healthcare professionals, including Health Consultant in the Office of the Prime Minister Dr Merceline Dahl-Regis, who is also the head of the National COVID-19 Vaccine Consultative Committee.

As of 4.30 pm, 110 people had been vaccinated.

Asked about the skepticism among some quarters of the public, the prime minister said: “I think it is essential. There has been a lot of fake news and rumors about side effects and different things, but you would notice that millions and millions of individuals throughout the world have already been vaccinated and there have not been any difficulties or problems and that speaks volumes.

The vaccination program begins at Loyola Hall on Gladstone Road.

“I have taken mine. There was no fear or anything and I advise the Bahamian public to take the vaccine; and also, so our country can get back to normal as quickly as possible, and individuals can start working; kids can go back to school; individuals can start playing; athletes can get back to practicing — we can prepare for the Olympics, etc — and it is essential for us to get especially our Family Islands back to normal and advancing them as quickly as possible.”

The Bahamas has 20,000 doses of AstraZeneca in-country, a result of a donation from the government of India last Wednesday.

More than 30,000 doses are expected before the end of the month through the World Health Organization (WHO)/Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) COVAX Facility.

Minnis said he looks forward to Bahamians becoming vaccinated and believes “we’re turning the corner now” with more people understanding the vaccine is “safe and that it will save lives”.

“I look forward to the entire Bahamas receiving the vaccine because our great priority at this particular time is safety and ensuring that all of our population, all of our Bahamian residents and those within The Bahamas, are safe so we can go back to work, commence our regular life and we can socialize,” he said.

“That is a part of our culture. We are not a group of people who are accustomed to elbow [bumping] and social distancing.

“So, I think we would be more than happy to get back to normal life as quickly as possible.”

The prime minister was unable to say which grouping the vaccine will be rolled out to next, noting that the national committee, which is responsible for the rollout, will update the public on the vaccination program.

He insisted there was no political involvement.

He said he looks forward to the country receiving the balance of its vaccine allotment so the population can be become vaccinated and return to a greater degree of normalcy.

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”.