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First vaccinations expected in less than two weeks

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Covid-19 Press Conference: Kim Wilson, the health minister (Photograph by Akil Simmons)
Help on its way: Bermuda is expected to start vaccinating against the coronavirus within the next two weeks (Photograph supplied)

Health officials hope to begin vaccinating residents against the coronavirus within the next two weeks, the Government has said.

Bermuda is in line to receive 9,750 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine by the end of next week, with the first doses expected to be administered on January 11.

Kim Wilson, the Minister of Health, said tonight that discussions for obtaining further doses of the vaccine from the UK were ongoing with Government House.

More shipments were expected, but there was not yet a “definitive date”, she said.

She was also unable to say whether shipments of the AstraZeneca Oxford vaccine, approved for use by UK health regulators today, might be coming.

The AstraZeneca vaccine is easier to store than the Pfizer vaccine and is cheaper. the UK has ordered 100 million of the doses of the Astra-Zeneca vaccine and has promised the overseas territories will receive a proportional amount to that distributed in the UK.

Ms Wilson said that additional vaccines were likely to arrive “at the end of Q1, at the end of February, March” through the vaccine consortium Covax, and promised a “full educational campaign” was coming.

A Government spokeswoman confirmed that certain groups will be given priority for the vaccine and added that plans are in place for a dedicated “vaccination centre”.

The spokeswoman said: “Our aim is to ensure that the vaccine is accessible to everyone who needs it first – a phased roll-out plan has been created.”

The spokeswoman added: “We will be creating a vaccination centre equipped to manage medical emergencies.

“In addition, emergency transport will be in place to refer anyone requiring hospital care.”

The initial roll-out will focus on healthcare workers, rest homes, people aged over 65, those with two or more health conditions and essential workers.

Enough vaccines for 4,875 people are expected in the first shipment. Two doses of the drug are needed for it to be effective.

The spokeswoman said: “Eligible persons to receive the vaccine in phase one and two of the roll-out will be able to book an appointment online.

“Persons will be informed by their workplaces and associated organisations about their ability to access the vaccine.”

Concerns have been raised about Covid-19 vaccines including the speed of their development.

The Government spokeswoman said: “The Ministry of Health has been closely monitoring the roll-out of the vaccine across the UK, noting in particular any side effects.

“So far there doesn't appear to be any serious side effects outside of what is typical for vaccination – allergic reactions.

“This is why the vaccine will be administered in a medical facility by medical personnel who have the appropriate equipment and knowledge to deal with any adverse reactions should they occur, as not everyone knows if they have a particular allergy, for example.

“It is crucial that Bermuda's residents get vaccinated – in particular our vulnerable populations, such as our seniors and the medically vulnerable.

“For some of them, getting vaccinated could mean the difference between life or death.”

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Published December 31, 2020 at 8:10 am (Updated December 31, 2020 at 8:10 am)

First vaccinations expected in less than two weeks

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