Bahamas Doctors Union (BDU) President Dr. Melissande Bassett said while junior doctors are on board with getting the AstraZeneca vaccine once it arrives in country, there are those who have expressed concern and wish to be able to choose which vaccine they’re able to receive.
She said after the Ministry of Health reached out through the medical association to engage the physician body with the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine, discussions revealed several issues some doctors have.
“During our discussions as to whether or not persons will be willing to accept the vaccine, one of the issues that was raised and is valid is whether or not persons have a choice as to which vaccine they would take,” she said.
“Now, at the time, it was not an option. I know some persons are hoping that that changes. The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) as well as out of the UK, they have recommended that certain groups of persons don’t take certain vaccines if they have had allergic reactions in the past whether to medication or to food, where they have seen some adverse event.
“Now, we know that some of these numbers are low, but some of the apprehensions that were raised during the survey was, do I have a choice.
“One of the questions that were raised, physicians were concerned as to whether or not they would have a choice of the vaccine. That doesn’t seem to be an option right now and we’re hoping in the future that it becomes available for those who feel that they may be at risk.”
Last week, Minister of Health Renward Wells said rollout of the government’s COVID-19 vaccine plan could begin as early as this week.
The Bahamas is scheduled to receive 100,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, which is a non-mRNA vaccine.
Bassett said physicians who have had past allergic reactions were the physicians who expressed concern about having the option for the non-mRNA vaccines.
“Those persons who have had allergic reactions in the past, who feel that they may have an adverse effect, those were the ones who were concerned about having the option for the non-mRNA vaccines,” she said.
She added that there were also concerns raised about those in an older age group, but expressed a bit of satisfaction that the ministry is engaging in discussion with physicians prior to the rollout.
However, she said there is room for more.
“So, we welcome further dialogue on this,” Dr. Bassett said.
“It was a good start. We had a good discussion and exchange of information and we’re hoping that those other fears that were raised as well, persons with comorbidities, persons in a different age group, and the other questions that were raised, we’re hoping that we can get those answered before the rollout of the vaccine.
“As you know, there are mRNA vaccines as well as those that are traditional that use part of the virus itself to elicit a new response. The science between the two might suggest that the traditional vaccines, you may see less of a reaction. We’re still waiting for all of the data to be released on that. We’re still gathering it and it’s good to know that adverse reactions are consistent across the board with regular vaccines and regular vaccinations. So, that is very encouraging for persons to consider the vaccine safe.”