While the mask-wearing mandate was lifted in October, Grand Bahama’s Clinical Director for Community Health Services Dr. Stacie Bevans-Laing is encouraging islanders to remain vigilant, get vaccinated, and warned that COVID-19 and other respiratory illnesses remain a threat.
She noted that less than 50 percent of islanders are fully vaccinated.
“To date, in Grand Bahama, we have 22,468 adults that are fully vaccinated with first and second doses,” said Bevans-Laing.
“That is out of an estimated 50,000 persons on island,” she added.
Bevans-Laing noted that 4,889 adults have received their booster shots.
“As for the number of pediatrics (children), 111 doses have been administered – 53 fully vaccinated and 58 partially vaccinated.”
Bevans-Laing said in her estimation, those are not encouraging numbers.
The clinical director explained that after two vaccine doses, the patient is considered fully vaccinated.
Booster shots are administered to remind the body’s immune system of the need to fight against the virus.
Bevans-Laing noted that taking the booster is optional.
“But it is recommended,” she added.
“The number of boosters given depends on the type of COVID vaccine available.”
Johnson & Johnson, Moderna and Pfizer are the vaccines administered in the country.
In October, Prime Minister Philip Davis announced that masks were no longer mandatory except in healthcare facilities, senior care homes and classrooms.
Then, in early November, the government declared that masks are no longer mandatory in schools.
In an interview with Grand Bahama News, Bevans-Laing expressed concern over the relaxation of protocols, especially in schools, because of the number of children not vaccinated and the time of year.
“Right now, we’re in flu season and if we are paying attention to the US news and we are close to Florida, they have an increased number in influenza cases, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), COVID — whether it is the Omicron strain or another strain,” she said.
“In some states, they don’t even have ped [pediatrics] beds available for the cases that are going to hospital; therefore, locally, we have to be careful with our children.”
She cautioned parents to use their discretion in terms of mask wearing at school and at public gatherings, as the island’s healthcare workers are seeing an increased number of children coming in with cough, cold or flu-like symptoms.