STUCK WITH ASTRAZENECA: Health official says Bahamas “unlikely” to procure different vaccines anytime soon

STUCK WITH ASTRAZENECA: Health official says Bahamas “unlikely” to procure different vaccines anytime soon

Archer: Bahamas fortunate to have received vaccines through COVAX Facility

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — The Bahamas is not likely to receive any other vaccine besides AstraZeneca, at least for the time being, according to Chairman of the National COVID-19 Vaccination Committee’s Logistics and Regulatory Sub-Committee Dr Gina Archer.

Archer, who also serves as head pharmacist in the Department of Public Health, was addressing questions during a Ministry of Health community broadcast on Friday.

When asked whether The Bahamas will receive another type of vaccine soon, she said: “It’s unlikely right now for a number of reasons, because they’re very difficult to source especially when many countries around the world, larger countries, are also experiencing a third wave.

Dr Gina Archer. (FILE PHOTO)

“…It’s quite a challenge in sourcing additional vaccines around the world.”

Archer said The Bahamas has been “very fortunate” to access vaccines through the COVAX Facility.

She added: “We do have a relatively consistent supply of the AstraZeneca vaccine coming in country and we will continue to roll out with that particular vaccine until the time comes when there are other vaccines available to us.”

The country received 33,600 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine through the World Health Organization (WHO)/Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) COVAX Facility, and it received 20,000 doses as a donation from India last month.

The COVAX Facility is expected to deliver another 33,000 doses by the end of May.

A balance of 34,200 doses would remain outstanding.

More than 15,000 people have been vaccinated so far, and vaccines have begun to be administered on Grand Bahama, Eleuthera and Abaco.

The government’s national vaccination programme is expected to be rolled out to Family Islands including Bimini, Long Island, Cat Island, San Salvador and MICAL this week, Archer announced.

Minister of State for Finance and for Grand Bahama Kwasi Thompson gives a “thumbs up” signal as he becomes the first person to receive the COVID-19 vaccine at the Susan J Wallace Community Centre on Sunday, March 21. (BIS PHOTO/LISA DAVIS)

She said health teams dispatched to those islands “will be actively vaccinating persons who wish to have the vaccine next week between Monday and Thursday”.

“We’re in the process now of finalizing the logistics of the teams going in next week and those activities will begin on Monday, I’m pleased to say,” she said.

Archer further warned Bahamians to be careful where they receive vaccinations from.

“Be very careful,” she said.

“You need to only source your vaccinations through the government-run program because there are no free vaccines out there and if you opt to go somewhere else outside of a government-run programme for a vaccine, more than likely it’s a falsified product you’ll be getting, placing yourself at risk.”

About Sloan Smith

Sloan Smith is a senior digital reporter at Eyewitness News, covering a diverse range of beats, from politics and crime to environment and human interest. In 2018, Sloan received a nomination for the “Leslie Higgs Feature Writer of The Year Award” from The Bahamas Press Club for her work with Eyewitness News.