“TOO ONEROUS AT THIS TIME”: Doctors disagree with vaccine lotto

“TOO ONEROUS AT THIS TIME”: Doctors disagree with vaccine lotto

Church representatives declined to comment; mixed reaction from the public

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — The Bahamas Doctors Union (BDU) has come out against an incentive program for vaccination or “vaccine lotto” as the government and the United States Embassy explore similar initiatives to bolster vaccine uptake.

Eyewitness News revealed on Monday that the government and the National COVID-19 Vaccine Consultative Committee were considering partnering with the private sector to offer vaccine incentives, but had not made a definitive decision on the matter.

BDU President Dr Melisande Bassett said: “I don’t agree in an incentive program because it may be onerous as time goes on.

“We should have more educational programs [and] encourage and enforce COVID-19 protocols at bars, parties.”

Dr Melisande Bassett.

The Bahamas remains in a surge, with daily cases and hospitalizations pushing health institutions such as Princess Margaret Hospital and Doctor’s Hospital to the brink, with both institutions being forced to choose who receives critical life-saving equipment.

Though vaccine interest and uptake have increased since The Bahamas acquired 128,000 Pfizer vaccine doses, just 13 percent of the population has been fully vaccinated — a large shortfall from the 75 to 85 percent needed to reach herd immunity.

Yesterday, Bassett said: “We are having greater interest, but it may be multifactorial [with] the increasing death rates, as well as having [vaccine] choices.”

Responding to Eyewitness News questions on the vaccine lotto, Pastor Mario Moxey, who heads the Bahamas Christian Council’s COVID-19 Investigative Committee, said the church does not have a comment at this time.

Eyewitness News understands the church has expressed a position to government officials on the matter, but its leanings on the potential incentive program remain unclear.

It was revealed on Tuesday that the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) supports any program that will result in increased voluntary vaccination of the Bahamian people, but several people who spoke to Eyewitness News yesterday expressed mixed views.

“It could be an option too — not only relying on the people’s decision to go freely by themselves for any kind of motivation but to have extra one could be a good thing,” said one man.

Another resident said: “I think it would, honestly, [be] good. It’s kind of crazy, but I think it would [encourage people to get vaccinated].”

Bahamian resident in favor of vaccine incentive.

An elderly woman, who said her doctor had just encouraged her to get vaccinated as soon as possible, told Eyewitness News that the vaccine was incentive enough.

“I feel like people need to consider their health, either life or death, and there shouldn’t be [any] incentive,” she said.

“If you want to live, you’ll take it. If you don’t want to, the choice is up to us. The vaccine is the incentive.

“They should encourage people to take it.”

“It’ll be a good idea for some people who really in need of money, they would take the vaccine just because of that

“Some people will be interested, I think so.”

However, another woman said the incentive program is “a bunch of garbage”.

Bahamian resident in favor of vaccine incentive.

“Why are you doing a lottery for people to get vaccinated?” she asked.

“It should be your free choice. You shouldn’t have to offer a monetary incentive for it.

“If you’re not interested, why can’t it be that you’re just not interested?”

To date, more than 171,000 people have been vaccinated, with at least 51,150 people being fully vaccinated against the virus.

This amounts to around 13 percent of the population.

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”.


BDU wrong on this one, might be a good incentive for people to get the vaccine which will decrease burden on our health system and save lives. Who cares what the church thinks though? I don’t go to snake oll salesmen for health nor public policy advice.

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