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Minister gives progress report on Covid vaccinations

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COVID-19 Vaccine: Bermuda College Vaccination Center (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

More than half of residents over the age of 80 have received a Covid-19 vaccination, the health minister announced yesterday.

Kim Wilson, the Minister of Health, said in the House of Assembly that 23,939 vaccinations have been performed up to and including Wednesday.

She added that 55 per cent of those 80 and older had received at least one shot and 14 per cent had been fully immunised.

Ms Wilson said the first 25 per cent of the island’s vaccine order from Covax are still expected to arrive in the first quarter – and the shipment will be made up of the AstraZeneca Oxford vaccine.

She said the timeline of the Covax vaccines is “not yet settled” but the rest of the 26,400 doses ordered through the body are expected to reach Bermuda in the second quarter of the year.

The shipment will supplement vaccines received from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, who have already sent the island 39,250 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

Ms Wilson added: “We base our projections for vaccine use on the confirmed and committed doses we have in hand or will receive.

“As such, we only count the 39,250 doses of the Pfizer vaccine when we state that Bermuda’s ‘last first dose’ date will be in mid-March based on current supplies.”

Ms Wilson said the Government was still in the second phase of its vaccine roll-out focused on senior and the medically vulnerable.

She said: “We are also developing solutions to reach certain identified groups, for example, people who are less mobile, residents living with disabilities and unsheltered persons. ”

Ms Wilson added: “We recognise many in this age group of those 65 and older do not have access to the technology and/or the computer literacy needed to complete the registration form, and we are working to over come this barrier and get more of our most vulnerable vaccinated.”

She said that as of March 3, 23 per cent of the population had received one dose of the vaccine, while 13 per cent had been immunised.

Ms Wilson added: “If you take into account just the percentage of the population which is eligible for the vaccine, we have vaccinated 27 per cent of the eligible population and immunised 16 per cent of that population.

“This is very good news.”

Ms Wilson said that to date, 1,454 people had failed to show up to scheduled vaccination appointments, but a “standby” list and a policy of overbooking prevents vaccines being wasted.

She said: “We overbook in anticipation that circumstances will arise.”

The Minister also praised the hundreds of people who responded to Wednesday’s appeal to use a surplus of vaccines.

Ms Wilson said the issue arose because there was a miscalculation about how many vials would be needed for the week.

She said crowds of people waited in the rain for a shot, and staff worked for between 12 and 14 hours to ensure no doses were wasted and make “lemon out of lemonade”.

Ms Wilson said that about 4.6 per cent of vaccines sent to Bermuda are wasted – slightly below the international average of 4.8 per cent – with broken vials being the main cause of any wastage.

She said it was critical for Bermudians to be vaccinated to help the island reach the herd immunity goal of 70 per cent which would create a “dead end” for virus transmission.

Ms Wilson added that those who have already recovered from the virus should also receive a vaccination.

She said: “Some believe that actually getting Covid-19 will provide a ‘natural immunity’ and will consider this sufficient. It is not.

“Experts do not know how long this natural immunity lasts, and the risk of severe illness and death from Covid-19 far outweighs any benefits of natural immunity.”

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Published March 05, 2021 at 1:47 pm (Updated March 05, 2021 at 1:47 pm)

Minister gives progress report on Covid vaccinations

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