Vaccination program to be accelerated

The number of COVID-19 vaccination slots will nearly double next week as the National COVID-19 Consultative Vaccine Committee ramps up vaccination efforts amid a surge in COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths in The Bahamas, according to committee chair Dr. Merceline Dahl-Regis.

During a virtual press conference on Sunday, Dahl-Regis said additional vaccination centers will be opened on New Providence and Grand Bahama this week to accommodate the roll-out of the Pfizer vaccine.

“Over the next week, August 16th to 20th, there are 7,514 appointments already booked. This includes 4,603 or 61 percent first doses, and 2,911 or 39 percent second doses,” she said..

“This represents 96 percent of the appointment slots available online up until Friday of this week.

“During the week of the 23rd of August, we anticipate that a total of 17,100 appointments will be available. Our goal is to fully vaccinate 60,000 Bahamians and residents over the next six weeks.”

Dahl-Regis said the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine will be available to the general public as of Thursday at Kendal G.L. Isaacs Gymnasium. However, the committee will carry out an assessment of the vaccine administration on a select group of adults and children over the age of 12 today.

The public can also begin booking appointments for the Pfizer vaccine today, starting at 3 p.m.

“As part of the push to get as many shots in arms as quickly as possible the Kendal Isaacs Gymnasium, Loyola Hall and Melia vaccination centers on New Providence will also be opened over this coming weekend, on Saturday and Sunday,” Dahl-Regis said.

On Grand Bahama, an assessment of the administration of the Pfizer vaccine will be carried out this coming weekend, followed by a full roll-out on August 23, Dahl-Regis added.

She said family island residents should pay close attention to the schedule updates in order to make appointments as soon as they become available.

Children between the ages of 12 and 17 will be able to get vaccinated with the Pfizer vaccine. They must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian to the vaccination center, Dahl-Regis stressed.

On Friday, The Bahamas recorded 158 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the total number of cases to 16,430.

“Our healthcare system is overwhelmed,” Dahl-Regis said. “The morgue at the Princess Margaret Hospital is full.

“There were 142 COVID-19 patients in hospital, including 13 in the intensive care unit. Sadly, one new death was recorded, bringing the total number of COVID-19 deaths to 313.”

“…We know that vaccinations save lives,” she said.

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