Govt will determine what to do about undocumented migrants receiving COVID vaccine

The government will determine if it will provide doses of a COVID-19 vaccine to undocumented migrants in the country once the larger population is vaccinated, Minister of Health Renward Wells said yesterday.

When asked if the vaccine will be offered to undocumented migrants, Wells replied, “The reality is we have a schedule as to who is going to get the vaccine…

“We’re going to start with those individuals initially, our frontline workers, those over 65.

“But, you know…undocumented migrants show up to the hospital to receive all kinds of care. But, in any event, most of the time, undocumented migrants are not the individuals who come forward other than in circumstances where they absolutely need medical care.

“So, once the government of The Bahamas would’ve covered its population, its Bahamian citizens, residents, I think we’ll be looking to see how we can meet the requirements of everybody in the country.”

The AstraZeneca vaccine is expected to arrive in The Bahamas as early as this month.

Wells also said that the government does not plan to offer the COVID-19 vaccine to politicians in the first group.

House Speaker Halson Moultrie had previously told The Nassau Guardian that members of Parliament should not receive special priority for the vaccine once it arrives in The Bahamas.

Asked about this yesterday, Wells said, “It is not our intention to offer it to politicians in the first group. But, the reality is that this politician has to take it and so does the prime minister and we’ve already committed to doing just that.

“We are more interested in vaccinating our frontline workers, those persons involved in our armed forces.”

He noted that Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis laid out a plan as to which individuals will receive the first batch of the vaccine.

Among the first priority groups eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine on New Providence and Grand Bahama are healthcare workers, people over the age of 65, uniformed branch members, frontline workers, critical workers in high-risk settings and other essential service workers, according to Minnis.

Last week, the minister of health said that the World Health Organization — from whom The Bahamas is receiving the vaccine — had promised the government “that in a week or two, we will be getting about 100,000 doses of AstraZeneca coming into the country”.

Wells said yesterday that government wants to ensure that “we don’t have any sort of wastage in regards to the deployment of the vaccine”.

For this reason, according to Wells, there is “a little more” training taking place in preparation for the deployment of the vaccine.

He said public clinics and medical facilities are among the vaccination sites identified on New Providence.

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Jasper Ward

Jasper Ward started at The Nassau Guardian in September 2018. Ward covers a wide range of national and social issues. Education: Goldsmiths, University of London, MA in Race, Media and Social Justice

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