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PM provides update on vaccines

PM provides update on vaccines
Prime Minister Mia Mottley speaks to the media while staff of the Maurice Byer Polyclinic listen. (Picture by Lennox Devonish)

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Vaccines in Barbados are not mandatory, but anyone who wants to get a COVID-19 vaccine should be able to do so by the beginning of May once those on order arrive on island.

Prime Minister Mia Mottley said the country was progressing with the rollout of the National Vaccination Programme and expected the first batch from India to be exhausted by the coming week.

To date, she said there were 29 186 vaccines administered, including 3 000 on Thursday. This was accomplished in just under two weeks. However, with almost 250 new cases over the last five days or so, “this is not where we want to be”.

During her first national address since announcing the extension of the national pause, Mottley said Barbados was trying to source the medicine from several places but she was keeping fingers crossed that they arrived on time.

“While it is my wish and intention for Barbados to be among the countries to have COVID vaccinations on demand, it is not the will or intention of this Government to force anybody not seeking a vaccination to get one. In plain terms, vaccination is not mandatory in Barbados,” the Prime Minister said.

However, she noted that it was not a new requirement to produce vaccination cards, especially when travelling to certain areas. This applies to students studying overseas, those seeking citizenship (green cards) in the United States and to countries like Australia and Jamaica which have requirements for yellow fever and other diseases “of grave concern to the world”.

“And we are already seeing signs in the world that if you want to do certain things, that people are requiring more and more evidence of vaccination,” she added.

Mottley said this was the direction in which we must go if we are to turn the corner on COVID-19. And while the vaccine will reduce the spread and fatalities, the public health protocols still must be rigidly maintained.

She asked those citizens who have not considered taking the vaccine to do so and announced that a batch of about 100 policemen as well as fishermen and fish vendors indicated they wanted to be inoculated. She said discussion must be had with the religious organisations about their leaders.

The Prime Minister acknowledged there were some problems with the appointment system for the vaccines resulting in long lines at the centres and she said those would be refined. A new app is set to be rolled out next week which is expected to help with this effort.

“We believe we will take the country safely though this despite the detractors,” she said

Mottley also thanked the public health officials and volunteers who are working at this time. She said a team of doctors would be deployed next week to go to the homes of those who are too ill, at risk or are unable to leave home, to administer vaccinations.