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Shadow health minister claims lack of 'comprehensive' vaccine plan

Vaccine warning: Shadow Minister of Health Michael Dunkley (File photograph)

Michael Dunkley, the Shadow Minister of Health, is urging the Government to ensure that fresh supplies of the coronavirus vaccine will be made available.

The Government is expected to receive 9,750 doses of the drug this week – enough to provide 4,875 people with protection against the virus.

But while first recipients are expected to be given the drug from Monday, the Government has been unclear on when fresh supplies will arrive.

Kim Wilson, the Minister of Health, could say only that another shipment is expected by the end of March.

Mr Dunkley pointed out that the initial supply would protect only about 7 per cent of the population, and that “demand could potentially far outstrip the supply”.

“We must be cognisant of the fact, while the availability of vaccinations provides hope, that Covid-19 is still very much with us,” Mr Dunkley said.

“A first shipment that is very limited in quantity, no definitive date for the next shipment, an estimated date of end of Q1 for the next shipment and an unknown quantity for that shipment – this begs questions as to the effectiveness of this next stage in easing the impact of the pandemic on the island and our ability to attempt a recovery.”

Last week, the Government confirmed that certain groups will be given priority for the vaccine and added that plans are in place for a dedicated “vaccination centre”. A public education programme has also been promised.

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

But there have been no further details about the vaccination plan since then.

“It is critical that a comprehensive plan is laid out as to who is eligible to receive a jab from this first batch, how these people will book an appointment and where it will be administered,” Mr Dunkley said.

“The Government has broadly stated that those eligible to be vaccination in the first batch will be frontline workers, essential workers, vulnerable people and seniors.

“Quick calculations of the numbers potentially in each one of these categories raises concerns that if proper planning is not done well in advance of the first batch, the demand could potentially far outstrip the supply. Thus, it is critical that the Ministry of Health is proactive in this regard.

“It is also crucial that Government provide information about vaccines, highlight the benefits of the vaccine, the importance of the vaccines in the fight against the pandemic and to dispel myths about Covid vaccines among other items.

“Covid vaccinations offer renewed hope in the fight against the virus. I have confidence in the science and have no reservation in receiving the jab.

“The roll-out and availability in some other jurisdictions has been slower than promised and it is important that Bermuda does not face the same challenge. As the Ministry of Health has said, for some people getting vaccinated could be the difference between life and death.”

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Published January 05, 2021 at 8:00 am (Updated January 04, 2021 at 10:07 pm)

Shadow health minister claims lack of 'comprehensive' vaccine plan

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