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Vaccination programme ‘drifting without impetus’ – OBA

Asking questions: Opposition MP Michael Dunkley (File photograph)

Government’s Covid-19 vaccination programme is “drifting without impetus” and is unlikely to achieve herd immunity targets, according to the Opposition.

Michael Dunkley, the One Bermuda Alliance spokesman for National Security and Health, spoke out following news that other jurisdictions have raised herd immunity rates in light of the new Delta variant of the virus.

On Friday, the Cayman Islands confirmed that up to 80 per cent of its population would have to be immunised before herd immunity could be reached.

In Bermuda, the Government has said that 70 per cent of the population needs to be vaccinated to achieve herd immunity although recently Government’s scientific adviser, Carika Weldon, said that 87.5 per cent of Bermuda’s population needed to be vaccinated in order to achieve herd immunity from the Delta variant.|

When questioned earlier this week if vaccination levels would have to be raised in order to achieve herd immunity, a Government spokesman said: “Matters concerning community immunity are part of our vaccination strategy and are under review on an ongoing basis.”

Kim Wilson, the health minister, repeated that statement during a Covid-19 press conference on Tuesday.

The minister said: “I think I answered that question yesterday. We are constantly reviewing the data and our percentages and looking at best practices internationally and when decisions are made they will be communicated accordingly.

The minister went on to confirm that “of recent results, 92 per cent were Delta and eight are Alpha.”

Last night Mr Dunkley asked if Government “had a plan”.

He said: “As was raised during the motion to adjourn in Parliament, the Government has gone silent in recent days as concerns about the Delta variant and a vaccination programme that appears to be drifting without impetus.

“While Dr. Weldon has stated that, in order to achieve herd immunity from this variant (the Delta variant) Bermuda requires 87.5 per cent of our population vaccinated, the Government will only say the rate is ‘under review’.

“That is simply not good enough, as is the lack of a vaccination programme which is not pushing our numbers upwards at a steady pace.

“The Government has always stated that vaccinations offer hope and a way forward to beat Covid.

“The One Bermuda Alliance supports this view and we have been willing to work with the Government to achieve a herd immunity goal.

“Sadly the current lack of a plan to achieve immunity, and the Government not stating what percentage is required at this time, has us drifting without direction.

“Bermuda deserves better after a long challenging period of restrictions. Now many wrestle with travel authorisation forms and mandatory quarantine for unvaccinated travellers which to date has seen a two third exemption rate, another hit to the public purse and people openly challenging the law.

“We call on the government to clearly enunciate a plan. It should include an accurate estimate of our population and the number of people required to be fully vaccinated.

“A majority of Bermudians have worked hard to follow restrictions and regulations since the onset of Covid and now must once again understand what is required to get Bermuda to a better place. Without a plan it is hard to seriously contemplate the unemployed will get back to work and we will have an economic recovery.”

A Government spokesperson said: "Matters concerning community immunity are part of Government’s vaccination strategy and are under review on an ongoing basis.

“If there is a change to the guidance that has been issued, the public will be informed. The Government will share the roadmap for what quarantine will look like after 30 September, following the Hon Chief Justice's ruling.

“Any changes to policy announced before that time will make a mockery of the serious nature of a constitutional challenge. We will await the judgment of our current laws, then make any adjustments needed, as it is vital that Government and citizens uphold and follow the law."

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Published July 19, 2021 at 4:42 pm (Updated July 19, 2021 at 4:42 pm)

Vaccination programme ‘drifting without impetus’ – OBA

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