More than 10,000 Bahamians and residents got their first shot of the AstraZeneca vaccine, Minister of Health Renward Wells said yesterday, adding that the government is open to securing other COVID-19 vaccines, including Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson.
“A lot of Bahamians have been crying for the Johnson & Johnson,” he said outside Cabinet when asked if the government intends to secure other COVID-19 vaccines.
“We’re seeking to see how we can source Johnson & Johnson as well as the others.
“Pfizer, we are going to have our ultra low temperature storage refrigerators in country at the beginning of May, which is about another month, so we will be able to bring in Pfizer if we need to.
“We also have other facilities in country now where we could store Pfizer if we were able to access it.”
The Bahamas received 20,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine in mid March as a donation from the government of India. Last week, 33,600 doses of AstraZeneca secured through the COVAX Facility, arrived in The Bahamas.
An additional 67,200 doses secured through that facility are expected in country next month.
The vaccine rollout started on New Providence, Grand Bahama and Eleuthera.
Wells said some Bahamians who are eligible to get the vaccine at this point have complained that they cannot get an appointment.
“We do have additional vaccines and we want people to take it,” he said.
“I say that not because persons are not taking it, because Bahamians are going online and signing up and calling me. They’re upset that some of them don’t have an appointment until May.
“And so, we’re looking at how we can open up additional sites to make sure that everybody is able to get in to get that vaccine so that we’re able to combat the potential for further increases.”
The minister noted that details will soon be revealed about other islands where the vaccine will be launched.
He also said that there is still no evidence that any of the COVID-19 variants are in The Bahamas.
“To date, we have no evidence of the new strains,” he said.
“…We would have gotten back our results from our lab in Brazil, the [Pan American Health Organization] PAHO lab. Of the 55 samples we sent, I think 30 of them were still viable to be tested.
“We tested all 30 and none of those showed that we had a new variant. It’s just the old COVID strain, the initial strain that we have in-country.
“But we are now sending our samples for genomic sequencing to CRS down in Trinidad … to do it for us and they have more of a two-week turnaround time.
“So we would be able to get a better sense as to whether there is a variant.”