NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Delon Brennen said the Ministry of Health has an extensive plan for vaccine distribution in The Bahamas, with built-in contingencies and a “backup for the backup plan” in the event of power outages, which have proved challenging for other jurisdictions distributing the vaccine.
The Bahamas is expected to receive 100,000 doses of the Oxford AstraZenaca vaccine in two tranches beginning this month.
According to the National COVID-19 Vaccine Consultative Committee, storage facilities have been identified to store those doses.
This includes the National Immunization Cold Storage Facility that has temperature-controlled storage for vaccinations.
During a virtual Ministry of Health press conference yesterday, Brennen said: “The Ministry of Health has an extensive plan for the distribution, deployment of the vaccine within our archipelago, so not just in New Providence or Grand Bahama, but also through those smaller territories and islands as well.
“In that instance, we have contingency plans in place to ensure that we pay attention not just to the ability to generate power, but backup power, and also identify partners on those islands who would be able to assist should they become a power outage issue.”
It was pointed out that in Texas, USA, extreme winter weather conditions have caused power outages to the facility storing COVID-19 vaccines, forcing health officials to distribute 5,000 vaccine doses to avoid losing them. The backup generator for that compound failed.
But Brennen insisted that health teams have partnered with Bahamas Power and Light (BPL), telecommunications providers and other stakeholders who can assist and provide backup power generation on the Family Islands, in the event of power challenges.
He said those growing partnerships are being sought to ensure the vaccine supply is kept at the appropriate temperatures and does not become compromised.
“We have backup and backups to our backup — situations that we are ensuring that no matter where it is, we will be able to protect our supply and we don’t end up with a compromised situation,” Brennen continued.
Chief Medical Officer Dr Pearl McMillan said protection of the national immunization supply has been an important Ministry of Health consideration for many years.
She said the national facility will be utilized on New Providence for COVID-19 vaccine storage.
“And certainly, on all of our islands, we build on what we already have in place for our national immunization program and we add consistently to that, and Dr Brennen, I think, clearly outlined some of what we do to ensure that we keep the vaccine safe, as well as what we will add on to ensure the COVID-19 vaccine is safe,” she said.