“TREAD CAUTIOUSLY”: Political parties vying for office caution govt over continued use of AstraZeneca vaccine

“TREAD CAUTIOUSLY”: Political parties vying for office caution govt over continued use of AstraZeneca vaccine

DNA calls for govt to consider delaying vaccination of some high-risk groups

BDM calls for vaccinations to stop altogether

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Two political parties in the country have expressed concern with the government’s continued use of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine as a host of countries temporarily suspend their rollout over blood clot concerns.

The Bahamas Democratic Movement (BDM) called for the government to likewise completely halt its rollout programme until more research is conducted on the matter; and while the Democratic National Alliance (DNA) did not suggest the same, it recommended that the government consider delaying the vaccination of certain high-risk individuals for the time being.

Just a day after The Bahamas received its first allocation of Oxford’s AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines last week Wednesday, several European Union (EU) countries suspended the use of a batch of AstraZeneca as a precaution after reports of some people having blood clots after vaccination.

EU health regulators and international medical agencies have insisted the vaccine is safe, while Minister of Health Renward Wells sought to assure the public that the vaccines The Bahamas received were not in the same batch that has been suspended elsewhere.

But in a statement, the BDM said: “Our people should never become guinea pigs to any pharmaceutical company for any reason whatsoever.

“The Bahamas Democratic Movement believes that we must put the safety of our people before anything else and we therefore demand that the government suspend its rollout of this vaccine tomorrow, March 17, 2021, until further empirical data is revealed which categorically evidences the overriding ‘good effect’ of this vaccine, and when our government can assure the general public that this vaccine is safe.”

It added: “…As a country, we must use our own judgement in deciding whether or not to move forward with administering the Astra Zeneca vaccine.

“I am urging the Minnis administration to tread cautiously. We should not be overzealous to try to appease the World Health Organization (WHO) or PAHO (Pan American Health Organization) or anyone else or any other organization, when it comes to administering a COVID-19 vaccine.”

In a separate release, the DNA said: “The Democratic National Alliance believes that the preservation of lives and livelihoods must remain the top priority of the government in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

It added: “While it is unconfirmed that the blood clots are directly linked to the vaccine, it is imperative that we keep ourselves informed on developments relating to approved vaccines.

“Nevertheless, the DNA submits that a cautious approach be taken in relation to persons with a higher risk of thromboembolic disease, with consideration given to delaying the administration of the vaccine to this group until this concern is clarified. We suggest that concerned individuals consult their healthcare providers.

“More importantly, the government and its task force must implement an effective and balanced education program on this vaccine to address the genuine concerns of our people.”

As of Sunday afternoon, 110 people in the country have received their first dose of the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine, including the prime minister and his wife, the minister of health, the chairperson of the National COVID-19 Vaccine Consultative Committee and numerous healthcare workers.

The government’s rollout programme is expected to continue today; while the WHO’s vaccine experts were set to meet yesterday to discuss concerns relating to the vaccine.