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'We are in a race against the spread of Covid-19'

King Edward VII Memorial Hospital (File photograph).

None of the 40 Covid-19 patients currently in hospital received a vaccine against the condition before they became ill.

Currently, 34 patients suffering from the virus are on two wards at King Edward VII Memorial Hospital – with a further six patients in the hospital’s intensive care unit. Eight people have died from the disease in the past month.

Yesterday, the Bermuda Hosipitals Board confirmed that none of those admitted to KEMH had been given the vaccine before they became ill.

Judy Richardson, BHB’s chief of nursing, who is also the executive lead of the vaccination programme at BHB, said: "To date, none of our inpatients with Covid-19 have been fully vaccinated, despite nearly a third of the adult population now being fully vaccinated.“

Ms Richardson said: “Being able to increase capacity means more people being protected sooner. This will not just protect people and their families, it helps the hospital cope too.

“This is how we prevent serious illness and more deaths. We are in a race against the spread of Covid-19, and we need to protect as many people as quickly as possible.

“We are proud to support the vaccine programme and very grateful to the many staff, donors and government for making it possible."

BHB is currently vaccinating around 500 people a day. The programme is being funded solely by charitable donations, with no financial support from Government.

When the vaccine programme was rolled out at the beginning of January, the board was initially tasked with vaccinating KEMH health workers only.

But it was later called in to assist with Government’s vaccination programme for the general public.

While the vaccines are provided free-of-charge through the UK Government, the BHB has had to pay out hundreds of thousands of dollars in staff wages and administrative costs to cover the programme.

Last month it launched a $200,000 appeal to raise funds to cover the cost of the vaccination programme.

A BHB spokeswoman said that the extra workload is estimated to cost more than $800,000 by the end of next month – and that the cost will be paid by donations from the private sector.

Ms Richardson said: "The costs of the vaccine programme for BHB relate to staffing, supplies, administration and overheads, as the vaccine is provided free-of-charge by the UK Government.

“The costs vary based on the hours and number of vaccinators working, but if we continue to vaccinate up until the end of May, when herd immunity will hopefully achieved, additional costs for the BHB community clinic will likely exceed $800,000.

“Originally the Bermuda Hospitals Board set up a vaccination clinic to vaccinate our employees. The Ministry of Health asked BHB to support the national vaccination programme with a ten week clinic.

“BHB has a fixed grant, and did not receive additional funds to run the clinic. Government and specifically the Ministry of Health, however, also have the additional costs of the whole pandemic response and running its own vaccine clinic.

“We recognise all of Bermuda is hurting financially right now. We are therefore very, very grateful to individuals and businesses in the community who have donated through the Bermuda Hospitals Charitable Foundation.

“This help has made it possible for us to increase our capacity to better support the vaccination programme.”

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Published April 21, 2021 at 8:10 am (Updated April 21, 2021 at 8:10 am)

'We are in a race against the spread of Covid-19'

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