NASSAU, The Bahamas – The Bahamas received 23,760 doses of the Pfizer Vaccine from the United States government to augment the country’s vaccination programme in the continued fight against COVID-19.
A handover ceremony took place after the vaccines landed onboard IBC Airways at Lynden Pindling International Airport on Thursday, March 9, 2023.
And for the first time, the bivalent vaccine is in The Bahamas; a total of 12,960 doses. It is authorized for use as single booster dose in children 6 months through 5 years of age. The remaining 10,800 Pfizer vaccines are for adults.
This represents over 319,410 doses donated by the U.S. Government to The Bahamas, to date.
Present at the airport ceremony were: The Hon. Dr. Michael Darville, Minister of Health and Wellness; Dr. Pearl McMillan, Chief Medical Officer; Dr. Phillip Swann, Registrar; Jason Crosby, Acting Charge’ d Affaires, U.S. Embassy, Nassau; and other officials.
Dr. Darville thanked the American Government, through its Nassau Embassy for the “wonderful gift” to The Bahamas. “We are pleased to have the vaccines in country and we know that they will go a long way.”
He said it is the Ministry of Health and Wellness drive to get as many people as possible, in the country vaccinated.
“What is so interesting about this particular donation is that for the first time in the country, we will get the bivalent vaccine which incorporates some components of the Omicron along with the other groups affiliated with the vaccines,” Dr. Darville said.
In this vein he encouraged the public to continue getting vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus.
“We are still in the COVID-19 pandemic according to the World Health Organization (WHO), and it is our responsibility as a government to make sure that our clinics and our facilities have vaccines so that Bahamians who are expressing interest to be vaccinated, will have the opportunity to do so.”
Dr. Darville acknowledged the U.S Government for its ongoing support of The Bahamas’ vaccination programme, and that of many other initiatives between both countries.
Mr. Crosby said: “We are excited to have another opportunity to share lifesaving COVID-19 vaccines with The Bahamas.”
He observed that vaccines are the best tool the world has to fight the COVID-19 virus. Hence, the donation to The Bahamas.
United States President Joe Biden has committed to donating 1.2 billlion doses globally, which represents the largest commitment of any single country or group of countries in the world.
“The path forward in the pandemic will require doubling down on our commitment to help vaccinate the globe and to save lives by making tests, treatments, and PPE widely available,” Mr. Crosby said. He thanked the Bahamas Government for its continued collaboration in these efforts.
Dr. Darville further explained that the bivalent vaccine is a modern immunization, which has more capabilities to address the various strains, and works well as a booster. And, he encouraged Bahamians to take the vaccine, as there have been questions regarding its arrival in country.
“Fortunately for us, we have about 12,960 dozes of the bivalent vaccine – a Pfizer vaccine which is very modern. It is very much in demand worldwide and for the first time it’s in the country,” he said.
Referring to a recent cluster infection on the Island of Exuma, Dr. Darville said that the country is still experiencing cases of COVID-19. “Our surveillance unit is very well trained and we address these issues as they come forth,” he said.
To the relaxation of COVID-19 protocols – wearing of masks, hand sanitization and social distancing, Dr. Darville said it is a global phenomenon and that there are very few countries where such measures still exist. “But The Bahamas is moving on, even though we have a pandemic. We must ensure that our tourism sector not only survives but grows, and we must make sure we get people back to work,” he said.
Meanwhile, Bahamians are being urged to practice safety protocols, be mindful of others if suffering from upper respiratory tract infection, and to respect those who decide to wear masks.
“There is vaccination hesitancy in the Commonwealth of The Bahamas which is reflective throughout the region. With that being said, it is the responsibility of the government to ensure that individuals who want to be vaccinated, that the vaccines are here,” he said.
And, as the United States is regarded as a strategic partner Dr. Darville said The Bahamas is pleased for the continuous support. “So for us, we are thankful that we have the bivalent and the ordinary Pfizer doses and we intend to continue our vaccination campaign throughout the Commonwealth of The Bahamas.
“The more people are vaccinated, the less burden it becomes on our hospitals and tertiary healthcare facilities simply because the facts are clear. Individuals who are not vaccinated are more likely to be hospitalized if they have any precursors as well as any issues with COVID-19. And for that reason, our vaccination programme continues,” Dr. Darville said.