Around 50 000 Barbadians could start being vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus “in the very near future”.
During a 35-minute national address yesterday, Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley said a plea to world power India for help had borne fruit and Barbados should receive around 100 000 AstraZeneca vaccines from that nation.
Barbados had requested both a donation and a chance to purchase thousands of the vaccine doses.
Mottley said front-line workers would be the first to receive their jabs (each person receiving two), along with elderly Barbadians and those considered most at risk, who suffer from chronic diseases and any co-morbidities.
Law enforcement and national security officers, along with other staffers considered essential workers, would be next in line.
“We have had commitments from the government of India, and we expect to receive shortly, a supply for 50 000 persons, and we hope to start the deployment of that in the very near future,” Mottley said.
She added she was well aware that not every Barbadian would want to be vaccinated.
“I am conscious there are some persons that continue to have concerns, and we will meet them. But there are also a lot of persons who are ready [to be vaccinated]. We have given a commitment that the first beneficiaries of the vaccine must be front-line workers, from medical personnel to the police and national security forces.”
She said hotel workers, particularly those who were serving guests and cleaning rooms at accommodation facilities, must also be in the first batch, along with supermarket workers. “They are going out there to work when most of us are getting the opportunity to rest and pause.”
The Prime Minister said she had already asked the Queen Elizabeth Hospital and the Ministry of Health, through the polyclinic system, to identify those patients who would be considered most vulnerable to infection in a COVID-19 environment.
“We are also going to be working assiduously to get more vaccines because we recognise that aggressive testing, vaccination, communication are the things that will help bring us back.” (BA)