Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis said on Saturday he hopes the promise of being able to gather more freely once fully vaccinated will incentivize Bahamians to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
“One of the policies [is], and the [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] CDC has submitted such policy, if all within an enclosed environment are vaccinated, then they don’t need to use a mask and other social distancing protocols, as we have stated before,” Minnis said.
“So, we are aggressively pushing for vaccinations and individuals would want to be vaccinated knowing that they can go into enclosed environments, be it restaurants or whatever, and feel quite safe.
“But that’s after the second vaccination, after you have completed both and two weeks post the second vaccination.”
With 53,600 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine having arrived in The Bahamas to date, the rollout of the vaccine has been gradually expanded to include more people, including hospitality workers, teachers, restaurant and retail workers.
The National COVID-19 Vaccine Consultative Committee reported yesterday that more than 15,000 people have been vaccinated in The Bahamas so far.
However, some individuals are worried about possible side effects of the AstraZeneca vaccine.
The European Medicines Agency (EMA) noted last week that rare blood clots are a possible side effect of the vaccine, and in the United Kingdom, officials said people under 30, who appear to be at a heightened risk for those adverse reactions, will be offered alternative vaccines. Minnis, however, said that everyone should keep in mind that the benefits outweigh the risks.
“We’re a tourism destination and one has to look at the benefits versus the risks,” he said.
“And when you look at the risks in terms of clots and thrombotic phenomena, when you look at that versus the normal population, the normal population is obviously greater than that, so that’s not a risk.
“So, I’m not concerned. I’m more concerned with the safety of the Bahamian populous. Life is most important and we think we’ve done an excellent job maintaining that and keeping our death rate to a minimum, especially when you look and see what’s happening around the world in Brazil, etc.
“And we’re now concentrating on [opening up] our economy. That’s why I was more than pleased that the [vaccination] committee recommended that they commence the hospitality industry.”